John Lennon’s Think about turns 50 tomorrow. While a song are not able to be pinned down to 1 day, it was on July 4, 1971, that finishing touches have been place on the recording of Imagine. It was produced in an album later on that 12 months.
How may possibly we honour, or just react to, this poignant anniversary? What is the bittersweet significance of Lennon’s dream of a earth dwelling as one? Ought to his longing for universal brotherhood be dismissed as futile because Lennon himself was killed by a “fan” who, amongst other good reasons, was incensed by Visualize?
At a time when id-primarily based hatred is diversely justified across the world, it is easy to feel entrapped in a pessimistic see of human societies. For those so troubled, Imagine can be little extra than a hippie fantasy.
Most of us know persons who sense offended by Lennon’s proposition that there is neither heaven nor hell, “above us, only sky”. Insert to that the eyesight of “no countries”, “no religion”, “nothing to get rid of or die for” — and opposition is unavoidable.
Prolonged soon after the defeat of communism, Lennon’s attraction that we “imagine no possessions”, can be ridiculed by anybody who is invested in a world-wide financial lifestyle that requires an infinite drive for far more product goods and purchasable encounters.
Of class, Lennon’s lyrics foresee this disdain. As a result, the refrain of the tune is, probably, even extra well known than its title: “You might say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.”
No matter if or not he supposed it, this puts Lennon in the business of anarchists — and that does not indicate rebels who throw bombs at kings and other rulers. Right here, the expression anarchist refers to all those people who have been encouraged by the rallying cry — “Demand the impossible”.
When Gandhi insisted that with the electric power of adore and fact, one’s opponent can be persuaded to have a modify of coronary heart, he was achieving over and above the conventional “possible” in politics.
When a extensive array of bhakti poet-saints throughout India, via distinct times, urged us to seem for god in just and come across divinity in our fellow travellers, they have been turning the unachievable into attainable.
So, one way to honour the anniversary of Think about is to find it in the broader fact in which it was written. Right after all, Lennon later gave interviews stating that a great deal of the track was taken from Yoko Ono’s e-book Grapefruit.
The Indian dimension of the Picture spirit is however older. Sahir Ludhianvi’s Woh subah kabhi to aayegi was published in 1958. Shailendra wrote Kisi ki muskurahaton pe ho nisaar in 1959. Kishore Kumar wrote Aa chalke tujhe primary leke chaloon in 1964. These sterling examples of however-residing, typically-sung music, clearly show how this spirit has had a everyday living of its possess in India’s well-known lifestyle.
If you are a die-really hard sceptic, it is simple to dismiss these music as a poet’s fantasy. But these poets had been not preoccupied with a Neverland. As an alternative, they had been expressing hopes and beliefs that experienced tangible political form in their moments. This was notably manifested in, but not confined to, the Progressive Writers’ Affiliation.
The tunes referred to previously mentioned reaffirmed an historical human longing — to dwell peacefully with just about every other and with the all-natural earth. They drew at the same time on historical roots, like the Sanskrit prayer in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad which starts “Sarve bhavantu sukhinah” (may perhaps all sentient beings be at peace) as nicely as on a modern day politics of brotherhood and unconditional dignity for all.
These aspirations ended up in no way limited to, or containable in, certain ideologies — be it communism, socialism or any shade of liberalism.
Currently, in section, the Consider spirit is manifest in sure regional conditions starting to be globally familiar. So ubuntu from Africa, which approximately translates as “you are for that reason I am”, inspires folks across the entire world. From Latin The us, buen vivir, the great lifetime, carries the exact resonance of mutual support and fruitful interdependence. From India sarvodaya, properly-remaining and upliftment of all, is invoked across the entire world by all those who — as Lennon urged — “imagine all the people today, sharing all the world”.
The darkish cloud which appears to hang about the Visualize spirit may perhaps have minimal to do with material instances and far more to do with our failure to track down the spirit in the completeness of life.
We can additional rigorously dwell by this spirit if we take to heart what I learnt from Om Prakash Rawal, a mild Gandhian-socialist politician from Madhya Pradesh. In the 1980s, Rawalji was an elderly guiding light-weight at numerous activist gatherings, wherever at some stage we inevitably sang Aa chalke tujhe primary leke chaloon. Just one day Rawalji mirrored on the second line of the track about a world with no tears, no sorrow and only adore.
“How can this be?” he asked. “How can there be really like in a entire world exactly where there is no sorrow?”
This column to start with appeared in the print edition on July 3, 2021 less than the title ‘Dreamer, but not the only one’. The writer is an author and founder of the on the internet system ‘Ahimsa Conversations’.