Text Type: Lyrics
Artist: John Lennon
(IMPORTANT: Before reading this, note that I am not meaning to offend or discriminate anyone’s religion or beliefs, I am simply making a personal reflection on how I think religion affects me and may or may not affect other people in society.)
The iconic classic “Imagine” written and composed by John Lennon explores the idea of living in a simpler world. In his lyrics, Lennon asks us to imagine how our lives would be different in a world without countries, religions, possessions and the structured systems created by humanity that continue to divide us as individuals.
“Imagine there’s no heaven, It’s easy if you try, No hell below us, Above us only sky, Imagine all the people living for today.” Imagine opens with Lennon questioning what life would be without the afterlife and how it would affect humanity: an idea portrayed in the first stanza above. Following the instructions of the song, I have imagined how our world and our lives would differ without heaven and hell – afterlife being one of the main foundations for the commitment of religion and worship. Religion structures and restricts the way we live so that we can make our way to a special place when we depart this life that we have been gifted, and while this is what an immense number of people prefer, if I take a step back and look at the situation I can see how people live as slaves under their religions’ obligations by following the rules that will determine their afterlife. So imagine if there is no heaven and there is no hell – isn’t the commitment of religion wasting our time? Restricting us from the lives that we could lead? As Lennon states, as I quote: “Imagine all the people living for today,” a life without an afterlife would make people live in the present, worshipping the gift of today rather than shaping their lives around the security of arriving in heaven when they die – and to one day realise that the day they draw their last breath– they may face only oblivion.
The global chaos and civil unrest that we have been brought up on is largely to do with nationalism, disagreement between countries and religious conflict. In the second verse of Imagine, Lennon asks us to imagine living without religion and countries, and how this would create peace among humanity: “Imagine there’s no countries, It isn’t hard to do, Nothing to kill or die for, And no religion too, Imagine all the people, Living life in peace: You…” If the whole world was a nation and had no religion, there would be no fighting for boundaries and territory, no nationalism or revenge would uprise war and no religion to disagree with because there is no one to fight and disagree with and no reason for the war and violence that is killing and causing suffering for people as you read this very moment.
In the third verse, Lennon invites us to imagine letting go of our possessions, the materialistic objects that we think we need: “Imagine no possessions, I wonder if you can, No need for greed or hunger, A brotherhood of man, Imagine all the people, Sharing all the world….” This verse has made me question if by sharing the world, will unevenly dispersed wealth, hunger and poverty come to an end as Lennon proposes in his lyrics? And how would our lives evolve from the current state that we live in? Lennon queries whether you really can imagine this idea, perhaps because of the shallow and materialistic world that we live in. At the same time as presenting an idea to end “greed and hunger” this verse also reflects the misplacement of our energy and priorities and how obsessed humans are objects that have no real sentimental value. If everyone could let go of this superficial and futile obsession, we could appreciate what really matters to us individually and together we could focus on larger issues and how to resolve them, in a “brotherhood of man”.
In the final stanza, concluding the song, Lennon reflects on the ideas that he has proposed throughout the lyrics, imagining the uncomplicated and peaceful life that he dreams of as he sings: “You may say I’m a dreamer, But I’m not the only one, I hope someday you’ll join us, And the world will live as one.” The closing of the song divulges the different approaches that people may have towards Lennon’s idea of a simple life and a debate whether his idealistic hope will ever be possible. Lennon states that you may think that he is a dreamer, and seeing that his ideas are so far from the reality we live in it is reasonable to do so. The distance between the world that we live in and the lives that we lead compared to the situation that Lennon suggests will commonly lead people to believe that his idea is unrealistic and impossible. They will think his theory on how to create world peace is simply just a superstition and a fragment of the artist’s hazy imagination – Lennon’s knowledge of this reaction is portrayed in the quote “You may say I’m a dreamer.” On the flipside, John Lennon’s idea of a simple world would actually solve the prominent issues present in our world today – think about it. War, crime, poverty, misplaced power and inequality would be banished as a result of removing religion, possessions, governments, countries and the order that structures our world and labels the people that live in it– there would truly be nothing to kill or die for – and this questions why people would have the instant, negative reaction towards Lennon’s idea. The only way that living the uncomplicated life that Lennon dreams about would be through unity and agreement, and this is reflected in the lines “I hope one day you’ll join me, and the world will live as one.” The reality of the situation is that there will always need to be a war before there is peace – otherwise peace would mean nothing. In conclusion, people are not afraid of living a life of simplicity and freedom, in fact, this is the ideal for humanity and fairness. What people are afraid of is the change and the unrest it would cause that would emerge on the journey to getting to the simpler world that Lennon imagines would change our world for the better.
Imagine, written by John Lennon, has opened my state of mind and has given me a new perspective on how we live structurally, artificially and in order – a system, that was set up to maintain structure, guidance, and arrangement, but has created the opposite, making us all as individuals slaves to our world’s rules, expectations and obligations and victims of civil unrest and global conflict. Imagine living in the moment, in a life with organic control because there would be nothing to argue about. Imagine living in peace: this is what Lennon has asked us to do, and this article is the result of me doing so.
Listen to Imagine here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DVg2EJvvlF8