A piece for Thought for the Week, Essex Chronicle October 2010: My first one.
Context: Party conference season.. and John Lennon’s 70 birthday, October 2010.
(JL and I have the same birthday… not that this is relevant to anything, except that I always remember!)“Imagine all the people, living life in peace”. John Lennon b 9th October 1940 – December 1980.
As I recently shared with my students in assembly, I was one of the many people who paused for thought to mark what would have been John Lennon’s 70th birthday. This was particularly poignant as this December will mark the 30th anniversary of his death. Thinking about him, led me to wonder where all the idealists have gone? Is there a place for ‘all you need is love’ and ‘war is over if you want’? During the party conference season I wonder if anyone was left feeling inspired by a vision for the future; a peaceful world, where chronic poverty is a thing of the past and mankind has established a way to live in equilibrium with nature? It’s unlikely. How quickly debates about climate change, tackling poverty and resolving global conflict are drowned out by the more immediate issues presented by our economic troubles and public spending cuts. Life is complicated, tough decisions need to made, difficult problems need technical real-life solutions – we know that. Some people’s jobs may be at stake; we know that too. But do we really have to reduce ourselves to making ‘look after number one’ our default position? Even when times are hard, surely we don’t have to accept such a limited vision of what society can achieve. It is all too easy to be cynical, painting environmentalists, anti-poverty campaigners and pacifists as naïve fools who need a reality-check. It is a far greater challenge to face the other way and to insist that the bigger global issues can and must be addressed. Don’t we need more people who can inspire us to have the courage to look beyond our immediate selfish concerns? At times like these, we need a few more dreamers to help us keep our perspective about what really matters and to remind us of the ideals we should be striving for. As John Lennon famously sang, “You may say that I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one”. Let’s hope so.