John Lennon’s Utopia is No Utopia
John Lennon and the Jews: A Philosophical Rampage has recently been updated and released. It truly is a unique, interesting, and exciting book, which speaks widely of the importance of Judaism, Zionism, and other key issues that explore the purpose of life.
An especially insightful and meaningful excerpt comes via the author’s poignant description of the meaning of the famous lyrics of John Lennon’s iconic song “Imagine:”
Imagine there’s no heaven, It’s easy if you try, No hell below us, above us only sky, Imagine all the people, Living for today… Imagine there’s no countries, It isn’t hard to do, Nothing to kill or die for, And no religion too, Imagine all the people, Living life in peace… You may say that I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one, I hope someday you’ll join us, and the world will live as one…
(Tell me you didn’t at least hum the melody while you were reading just now.)
The book’s author, Ze’ev Maghen writes:
Those words, those words! They’re so beautiful, so encompassing, and so right. We agree with them viscerally, adopt them instinctively. They strike some of our deepest, most primal chords, they produce a kind of nebulous but heartfelt longing, a yearning for something better, for something perfect, something beautiful. Everything we’ve been taught – indeed, a decent amount of what we human beings are made of – is passionately stirred by the simple yet profoundly compelling message of John’s ingenuous poetry (actually, the words were originally inspired by Yoko’s verse, if you can believe that).
I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking: “Oh, how predictable! Now this guy’s gonna explain how ‘Imagine’ is just a pipe-dream, an unfeasible, quixotic, idyllic fantasy that’s nice to sing about but has no place in our individual or collective practical planning for the future.” Well, if that’s what you think I’m up to…you’re dead wrong.
But I don’t want John’s vision to be fulfilled speedily and in our days. I don’t want it to be fulfilled…ever. My objection to his program is not that it is overly idealistic – but rather that there is nothing at all ideal about it. Because John’s beautiful ballad is in reality a death-march, a requiem mass for the human race. His seemingly lovely lyrics constitute in truth the single most hideous and unfortunate combination of syllables ever to be put to music. The realization of his dream – even in large part – would inevitably entail the wholesale destruction of the dreams, hopes, happiness’s and very reason for living of yourself and every single person you know. If we – who have for so long unthinkingly admired and warbled-off Lennon’s words – were to live to see his wish come true, the result would be more staggeringly horrific and more devastatingly ruinous than you or I could ever possibly… …imagine.
I agree that the reality is that without meaning, without something more than just day to day, there is nothing that’s great about this world. Do you love your family more than mine? Imagine you didn’t.
Loving everyone is great – but before you love everyone, love yourself. Love your family, and love those closest to you.
Maghen’s book is worthwhile reading and belongs in every single Jewish home. Get Maghen’s book now – at the very least, you will smile and laugh and think more.
As a resident of the Upper West Side, I know the next time I walk through Strawberry Fields, I will think about this.