Forty years ago, newly ex-Beatle John Lennon captured the attention of the world with his evocative, quasi-Marxist utopian ballad, Imagine. He cried for a world free from borders, nations, possessions, religion and war with everyone "living for the world." The song remains a favorite of folks over 50 and all who share its collectivist and globalist sentiments. Though I do not share the late singer's philosophy, I do resonate with the desire for a better world, free from the passions that divide us and incite so much hatred and violence.
To mark the anniversary of this song, I offer a new, 2010 version, with more achievable and less ideological sentiments. Imagination is a good thing. Envisioning a better future is the first step in the courageous pathway to a better destiny. I do not offer the following thoughts with Lennon's tune in mind, though I invite the musically-inclined to compose a new anthem. I believe that thoughtful souls from all parties and traditions can embrace these affections and affirmations.
Imagine no fatwas, no suicide bombs, no children used for anger and hate.
Imagine no collateral damage, no border lands in danger, ooh, you may say I am dreamer
But I'm not the only one.
Imagine all husbands faithful to their wives and every home a place of peace.
Imagine no children rushed between the ex-'s, but secure with Mom and Dad.
I wonder if you can.
Imagine our leaders keeping their word, and all neighbors lending a hand
Imagine no one hungry, a real brotherhood of man. Ooh, you may say I'm a dreamer
But the One who made us all showed us the way.
Imagine all the people living for faith and future
Something to live and die for, the healing of our land. Ooh, you may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one. I hope someday your join me
As the many are one.
OK, it will not make the charts, but the idea is clear. The way forward is NOT more fear, collectivist structures and repression of ideas. The way forward is faith and hard work, fidelity in relationships and building a better future for our posterity. The way forward unites imagination and integrity, as we envision a better nation and world and chart the ethical pathway to achieve it. The way forward requires a moral and spiritual awakening that will reverse the anarchy and narcissism of the past 50 years. It will require each of us desiring for others the liberties we want for ourselves.
All the regulations for business practices must apply to government agencies. Public employees must meet higher standards of ethics and productivity. Pension funds must be privatized and unfunded mandates ended. Divorce petitions must be reviewed and parents admonished to think of their children and not just their personal passions. Economic expansion and sane environmental policies must coexist to ensure our future. Creating wealth while caring for the commonweal will be the new norm as we remember that liberty requires virtue.
Our First Amendment will again be a beacon that guides our civil discussion. Apart from direct threats of violence, we must allow all manner of opinions and argue in public about our differences that make a difference. The role of government, regulations on business, religious values, political debates - all deserve a hearing, even if we radically disagree. Such is the brilliance of our Founders, who gave us a Constitution after months of acrimonious debate. It is easy to retreat into our ideological fortresses, label of enemies and avoid solving problems. Today's politicians suffer from what I call, "The Hezekiah Syndrome." The Israelites King proudly displayed the treasures of the Jerusalem Temple to the emissaries from Babylon. Later, the same king pleaded with God for an extended life and reign. A prophet came and said that his rule would be extended, but his hubris opened the door to his successors being subject to foreign control. What was Hezekiah's response? We was relieved that it was, "not in my lifetime."
Today's leaders in all parties care more for their power and privilege that for the long-term good of our nation and the world. They are exempt from accountability (except at the voting booth!), have "guaranteed" pensions and see all of us as statistics to be manipulated. Change will come one decision, one relationship and one vote at a time.
Here is a final verse to my hit song:
Imagine all adults voting, I wonder if you can.
All well-informed on issues, caring for their fellow-man
Ooh, you may say I'm a dreamer
But there is power in one.
I hope today you will join me until the battle for liberty is won.