We are all born in the miraculous circumstance of birth, tears, and that first breath and wail to the world.
Hopefully our births are accompanied by loving voices and soft light. In an almost prophetic nod to his future peace work John Lennon was born amid the noise of Hitler's bombs and was serenaded air raid sirens. His mother also gave him the middle name Winston in tribute to Prime Minister Churchill. The Liverpool docklands were a primary target for Germany's Luftwaffe. Air raids were commonplace and sirens wailed warning of an attack on the 9th October, 1940 as Julia Lennon gave birth to John Lennon. Night after night German bombs rained down on Liverpool and often Julia, her newborn baby and her family took refuge in a nearby makeshift bomb shelter. John Lennon's Aunt Mimi ran to the event of his birth ignoring the bombastic dangers. She said, "I knew the moment I first set eyes on John that he was going to be something special."
John Lennon has been mythologized and canonized in both life and death. Yet the break up of the Beatles was often embodied by childish aggression. Despite being a childhood bully, making fun of those with disabilities, an avowed womanizer, aggressive and jealous in his relationships and a general jerk in many ways- John Lennon was also a talented cartoonist, brilliant musician and song writer, a creative visionary, and one would even say a prophetic voice for peace and justice. He definitely walked the flawed walk of many tragic heroes. Though John Lennon was not imbued with supernatural powers, he and the Beatles earned the love and admiration of a generation in the 60's. In an article written about Lennon by Martin Lewis he said, “The appreciation for him deepened because he decided to use his celebrity as a bully pulpit for causes greater than his own enrichment and self-aggrandizement. For several key years in the late 60's and early 70's, Lennon and Yoko Ono turned their lives into a virtual “Truman Show” to promote the issues they believed in.”
There is the Lennon legacy of an astonishing body of music. Lennon was unafraid to explore his struggles with jealousy, suicidal depression, and even heroin addiction in the later song “Cold Turkey.” After the painful revelations of scream therapy, he also spoke of relationships. In the song Mother he said in plain heartbreaking words, “Mother...you had me..but I never had you, I needed you – but you didn't need me.” He set in the music a repeating plea of Mama don't go and Daddy come home. Those plain howls of pain had not been heard in popular music. In his history of interviews and relationships John Lennon was an achingly honest kind of guy. He later regretted some of his honesty and accessibility in interviews. Yet in the latter stages of his career by choosing to set his life and music in the stage of art, Lennon seemed to make a conscious decision to live in the raw moment of truth and revelation. Lennon said, “You're just left with yourself all the time, whatever you do anyway. You've got to get down to your own God in your own temple. It's all down to you, mate.”
I think the best heroes are the ones that inspire us to find our own inner hero. The hero that calls us to something greater and larger than ourselves, multiplies their own actions and the affects ripple onward and onward. When we move beyond looking for a savior – we might just save ourselves – and who know's - maybe the world.
John Lennon's song God called this out, He sang
God is a Concept by which
we measure our pain
I'll say it again
God is a Concept by which
we measure our pain
I don't believe in magic
I don't believe in I-ching
I don't believe in Bible
I don't believe in Tarot
I don't believe in Hitler
I don't believe in Jesus
I don't believe in Kennedy
I don't believe in Buddha
I don't believe in Mantra
I don't believe in Gita
I don't believe in Yoga
I don't believe in Kings
I don't believe in Elvis
I don't believe in Zimmerman
I don't believe in Beatles
I just believe in me...and that reality
At the core of his seeking, John Lennon called us to become our own hero. He called us to wake and tune in. He called us to save ourselves from our own lethargy. John looked for “The Answer”in music,through teachers, lust and conquests, through drugs, through gurus and pilgrimages, and material pleasure. Ultimately in the throes of painful therapy, I believe John Lennon boiled it down to himself. He had to find the answer within before he could truly act in the world with integrity.
John Lennon was certainly a hero for many. He inspired many.
On December 16th 1969 huge billboards appeared in Times Square New York, London, Paris, Los Angeles, Rome, Athens, Berlin, Montreal, Tokyo, and Port of Spain, Trinidad spelling out in plain black type “WAR IS OVER if you want it, Happy Christmas, John and Yoko.
We ask, “What Would John Lennon Do?”
All You Need is Love....All You Need is Love..Love...Love is all you Need
Piedmont Park was covered with something besides pollen one hot day this summer. Youths, parents, and activists marched, sang, and supported the gay and Jewish community with signs saying “God loves Glitter” and “Peace, Love, and Tolerance.” Of course, we had our Standing on the Side of Love signs! I saw some fellow seminary students carried signs saying “God is love!”
Thursday afternoon a lot of teens from Grady High School in Atlanta and community activists converged into a wonderful counter-witness to the hate-filled messages of Westboro Baptist Church. The church members had horrible signs, “God Hates Jews”, “Fags Hate God”, and other horrible language. A youth from Grady High School found out that Westboro would be protesting at their school so she helped to organize a counter-protest. Over 800 people responded on Facebook and there were hundreds that came.
We took this moment to bring our Standing on the Side of Love signs and join other faith groups, local teens, and activist in a peaceful witness to love. It was a great day to see the power of all ages and types of people coming together in spite of hate. It was a testament to the power of people gathered in the name of love.
What Would John Do? All I can do is think that he would not stand silent. He would still be witnessing to that inner struggle for truth and The Answer that he sought for so long. I think John would not be silent on the Gulf. I imagine he would support the right for all to marry. I would hope that he would have kept creating, inspiring, loving,and acting from the core of his not so perfect being.
All we need is love. Imagine. Give Peace a Change. Come Together...Right Now. May it be so.