At 10:50 PM on Monday, December the 8th 1980, with three shots to the chest, John Lennon was assassinated at the Dakota building in New York.
Desperate attempts of a doctor in the ER, who was holding his heart in attempt to bring life back to it, bore no fruit. That distant December over twenty years ago marked an end to an era.
Painfully simple as that, a man who defined paranoia as a heightened sense of awareness, was shot to death that far night in December outside his New York home, and that triple shot, too easy to be performed for the consequences it made, has marked an end to an era of love, imagination, freedom and mind opening. One of the greatest thinkers of our time was assassinated not for his revolutionary rebellion, but rather for his ideas of peace on Earth. John Lennon was here to show us how beautiful life is, and how love is the ultimate answer. It is rightful, then, to wonder – why would anyone want to kill him. Really, why?
I am afraid we will never grasp the answer.
It is disturbing, though, that so many peacekeepers suffered violent death: Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Benazir Bhutto, Bobby Kennedy, JFK – to name just a few who stood for peace and were either killed by deranged lone gunmen or else died in suspicious circumstances.
Is our society still unprepared for peace?
How come such a simple, natural idea as peace is perceived threatening to that extent that thinkers get killed for proclaiming it?
But, not to get lost, we are here to witness the revolutionary, yet, when considered thoroughly, rather natural ideas John Lennon tried to share. He understands the sixties fully, and has devoted his life to explore and utilize the possibilities recognized.
“The thing the sixties did was to show us the possibilities and the responsibility that we all had. It wasn’t the answer. It just gave us a glimpse of the possibility.”
The life philosophy he shared was very simple, but efficient at the same time. Life is, after all, simple. Chasing your dreams is simple. One just has to be true to itself and persistent, not giving up.
“Make your own dream.
That’s the Beatles’ story, isn’t it? That’s Yoko’s story, that’s what I’m saying now. Produce your own dream. If you want to save Peru, go save Peru. It’s quite possible to do anything, but not to put it on the leaders and the parking meters. Don’t expect Jimmy Carter or Ronald Reagan or John Lennon or Yoko Ono or Bob Dylan or Jesus Christ to come and do it for you. You have to do it yourself.
That’s what the great masters and mistresses have been saying ever since time began. They can point the way, leave signposts and little instructions in various books that are now called holy and worshiped for the cover of the book and not for what it says, but the instructions are all there for all to see, have always been and always will be.
There’s nothing new under the sun. All the roads lead to Rome. And people cannot provide it for you. I can’t wake you up. You can wake you up. I can’t cure you. You can cure you.”
With uncanny modesty, he shares the feeling of being unrecognized or not understood – something we all have experienced and endured on some level. He is no different, which just adds to his core belief that we are all one.
“When you do something noble and beautiful and nobody noticed, do not be sad. For the sun every morning is a beautiful spectacle and yet most of the audience still sleeps.”
He truly understood life, and he understood it very soon.
But, knowing oneself goes a long way. Combined with persistence of dreaming and sixties’ readiness for such a social phenomenon and – voila! A genius is born!
“People like me are aware of their so-called genius at ten, eight, nine. . . . I always wondered, “Why has nobody discovered me?” In school, didn’t they see that I’m cleverer than anybody in this school? That the teachers are stupid, too? That all they had was information that I didn’t need? I got fuckin’ lost in being at high school. I used to say to me auntie
“You throw my fuckin’ poetry out, and you’ll regret it when I’m famous, ” and she threw the bastard stuff out. I never forgave her for not treating me like a fuckin’ genius or whatever I was, when I was a child. It was obvious to me. Why didn’t they put me in art school? Why didn’t they train me? Why would they keep forcing me to be a fuckin’ cowboy like the rest of them? I was different.
I was always different. Why didn’t anybody notice me? A couple of teachers would notice me, encourage me to be something or other, to draw or to paint – express myself. But most of the time they were trying to beat me into being a fuckin’ dentist or a teacher.”
Growing pains are not that painful once you read this. We are all going through similar trials and tribulations, and that is a great and awesome part of being a human.
“I used to think that the world was doing something to me, that the world owed me something. And that either the conservatives or the socialists or the fascists or the communists or the Christians or the Jews or the fascists were doing something to me. And when you’re a teeny-booper, that’s what you think. I’m 40 now, I don’t think that anymore—because I found out it doesn’t fucking work. I am part of them. There’s no separation. Were all one. “Give peace a chance,” not “Shoot people for peace.” “All you need is love.” I believe it. It’s damn hard, but I absolutely believe it.”
And, logically enough, this musing is topped with a simple life mission:
“My role in society, or any artist’s or poet’s role, is to try and express what we all feel. Not to tell people how to feel. Not as a preacher, not as a leader, but as a reflection of us all.”
By expressing what we feel, we create a body that is society, our expression is a landmark of the time we live in and as such it stays recorded and is remembered.
Lennon’s time was turbulent and ever-changing, rebellious and peaceful at the same time. Revolutionary to say the least. In retrospect, it is no wonder youth was finding ways to survive and cope with the contemporary times.
“I think the music reflects the state that the society is in. It doesn’t suggest the state. I think the poets and musicians and artists are of the age – not only do they lead the age on, but they also reflect that age. […] Like The Beatles. We came out of Liverpool and we reflected our background and we reflected our thoughts in what we sang, and that’s all people are doing.”
“The basic thing nobody asks is why do people take drugs of any sort? Why do we have these accessories to normal living to live? I mean, is there something wrong with society that’s making us so pressurized, that we cannot live without guarding ourselves against it?”
And, as we all know it well, to John, Love was the ultimate answer. He loved Yoko, and by loving Yoko he loved the whole wide world. It was painfully simple. And beautiful.
“But I can be alone without Yoko, but I just have no wish to be. There’s no reason on earth why I should be alone without Yoko. There’s nothing more important than our relationship, nothing. And we dig being together all the time. Both of us could survive apart but what for? I’m not going to sacrifice love, real love for any whore or any friend or any business, because in the end you’re alone at night and neither of us want to be. And you can’t fill a bed with groupies. It doesn’t work. I don’t want to be a swinger. I’ve been through it all and nothing works better than to have someone you love hold you.”
Maybe his love is best described with the following saying which leaves nothing to be added.
“I was asked in an interview which was more important: money or love?
I told the interviewer that if he had to ask the question, he wouldn’t understand the answer.”
It was Love that denied his fear of death. Love is denial of death itself, Love will always conquer death.
“I’m not afraid of death because I don’t believe in it. It’s just getting out of one car, and into another.”
“Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.”
Was there an uncanny prophecy in the seemingly innocent words he shared once?
“Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King are great examples of fantastic nonviolents who died violently. I can never work that out. We’re pacifists, but I’m not sure what it means when you’re such a pacifist that you get shot. I can never understand that.”
‘The Day John Lennon Died’ came in 2010, on the 30th anniversary of the murder of John Lennon. The film traces John’s final day from a radio interview, to signing an autograph for his eventual killer, to working in the studio and finally on his way back home to see his son when he was shot and killed.
This holiday season, let me remind you of the most unique greeting, delivered long ago and far away… a greeting that will never grow old…