Imagine... we never sing that song again
By: Frank Yunker
The song "Imagine" by John Lennon is a beautifully, soothing piece of music that should be played whenever the need arises, but the song should never be sung. Why not? Imagine... that you think about the lyrics.
"Imagine there is no heaven. Imagine all the people living for today." If there is no heaven or hell, then there are no consequences to our actions. There is no morality and no right or wrong. Do you want to live in a world where people live only for today? Sounds like a plan that might encourage murderous gangs of thugs and non-stop pollution. Who cares? Live for today. Dump garbage wherever you want. We don't need a plan. We're living for today!
"Imagine no possessions. I wonder if you can." Yes, I can. It's called "living like a Cave man and Cave woman." It's also called death from old age at 30. It's a world of infant mortality, bare feet, death at any moment's notice, exposure to the elements and clothing only if you can skin a deer after battling with and defeating the deer. And let's hope that deer is your best clothing option and not tigers, pumas or jaguars.
"No need for greed or hunger. A brotherhood of man." Yeah, we've seen socialist utopias before. The Soviet Union collapsed from all that utopia. Cuba and Venezuela have implemented socialist utopias and the response has been mass emigration. What Lennon misunderstood is that while greed is bad, self-interest is good. The reason most Americans are not hungry is because of the self-interest of the farmer. Not greed. The farmer has hopes, wishes and dreams, too, and that makes him get up every day to plant, tend and harvest crops like potatoes and corn or milk cows or shear sheep. His desire for "possessions" leads him to serving the needs of his fellow man and that is what guarantees that other people won't go hungry.
"Imagine all the people sharing all the world." Yeah, more socialist drivel. First of all, let's recognize that we do all share the world. We just don't share it equally. I'm okay with Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and each individual Beatle sharing more of the world's resources than I get. They've brought more happiness and touched more lives than I did. They served mankind in ways that benefited all humanity. What I have is commiserate with how I've benefited humanity. I don't feel the need to "covet thy neighbor's goods," which is a pretty good philosophy that encourages possessions… which encourages the self-interest that leads to serving the needs of others.
More importantly, if Lennon had read history, he would know that all the people sharing all the world in common leads to starvation. Pilgrims who left England because of religious persecution nearly starved to the point of extinction when everyone shared everything. It doesn't work because demand is limitless while supply is constrained by incentive. Without incentive, the people produced so little that there was nothing to share.
"Imagine there's no countries… Nothing to kill or die for. And no religion, too." The implication here is that people only kill for country and religion. Sure, history is filled with many examples of both, but most religions teach values like treating others kindly or giving your time, treasure and talent to those in need. Asking people to give up religion will require the same force of coercion that peoples have used in the past to force their religion on another. Why not imagine this… freedom of thought, freedom of expression and freedom of religion. And while you're at it, remember that atheism takes just as much faith as the other major religions, but it comes without any morality.
Ahhh, but some songs are so beautiful they need lyrics to go with them.
It isn't hard to do
Capitalism creates prosperity
And lifts the poor up too."