Imagine By John Lennon
To be sure, his musical legacy is without comparison. I listen to and thoroughly enjoy The Beatles often– I prefer their later more psychedelic stuff.
His extremely popular post-Beatles solo song Imagine is cherished not so much for its musical simplicity (which is beautiful), but for the ethic and value its lyrics espouse.
The words of the song express a desire for a world with no divisions, where the whole world lives in peace. Which is a wonderful thing to imagine indeed. And an even more wonderful thing to work towards.
He seems, however, to misunderstand his own philosophy. He advocates peace and oneness but suggests that one way to help achieve that is to get rid of religion. The song promotes a secular humanist perspective of the problem and the solution to that problem. What Lennon seemed to fail to recognize was that secular humanism is a religion, too.
In essence, the song is saying believe like me and we will live in peace. Which is the same thing many religious people say which creates divisions. In offering a solution to the world’s problems, the song Imagine unwittingly creates the very thing it decries.
Of course a song cannot answer all the questions and cover all the details of a philosophy it promotes. However, what is surprising to me is number of people who adore these lyrics without questioning their own underlying assumptions. Many of these assumptions are truths indeed, but if one just assumes that it is true without thinking about why it is true one is building a house without looking at the foundation.
For example: Underlying assumption: Peace is Good
We must ask: Why is this true? Most everyone instinctively believes that peace is good. But what philosophical foundation do you have for that? Someone could argue since survival of the fittest is what helps us progress that peace would actually work against the evolution and progress of our species and is therefore bad. If you don’t agree with their argument, do you know why you don’t?
Ultimately, I agree with most of John Lennon’s vision in the song Imagine. Except it is my religion that teaches me those truths. If you strip that from me, as the song suggests, I can think of no foundation that builds the house he envisions.
The dream, then, evaporates and gets no farther than what it was when it started– imagination.