The greatest legend can be remembered on this critical day in history: December 8th, 1980. You may recall where you were, when you heard the news of his passing, or where you found this out. Or maybe you are a millennial and were not even born yet when this happened. No matter what generation you were born in this impacts all of us in some way or another! I know it affects me in a very poignant way and makes me nostalgic for when the world was a kinder and more prosperous place. There was a time 15 years ago when the nation came together during the hardest of times. But, now there has been more division, hatred, bigotry and less room for understanding or lending a helping hand to those in need. Imagine what Rosas Parks or even Martin Luther King Jr. would feel about the direction we are headed. Was this part of their dream? Or are they rolling with turmoil in their grave? We need to come together and reflect…Especially on days like this when the world fell apart when grief hit us down to the core; as you may know, we lost one of the greatest artists of all time who stood for principles that can be applied today; he stood up for change and spoke his mind whether people gave a crap what he had to say or not.
But instead of reflecting on all the ignorance- the alienation that is leading to the downfall of our culture, the war on drugs and our corrupt system- we need to talk about John Lennon and his influence on public opinion and how his legacy made a huge difference in our history today. How come such a powerful figure in our history sparked such controversy among the people?
Well, he grew up in a working class family to his father- Alfred Lennon- who left him at an early age and his unstable mother, Julia Stanley- who he lost at 17 years old. John had in fact lost her twice; once when she gave him up at age 5 and forever in 1958 when she was struck by a car when crossing the road to the nearest bus stop. Julia’s family including her sister, John’s auntie referred to as “Mimi” didn’t approve of her decision to marry Alfred claiming that he was, “Not a middle class man,” and had no means to financially support Julia. As you may might not have known, Julia then handed over care of her son to her sister. Despite his new living conditions, she made an attempt to visit him everyday. In 1957, she even bought him his first guitar, the “Gallotone Champion”; Julia shared her son’s love for Rock n Roll music even though Mimi disapproved of it.
Later on in the 1960s and 1970s, John Lennon’s public political activism helped to transform the current affairs in our nation; his socially and politically driven lyrics have earned him a prominent place in the scene of progressivism and the “Anti-war movement.” You might be wondering if Lennon himself identified as a liberal or a conservative….Some people might be thinking that he was Democratic and that his famous song “Imagine,” portrayed a Communist society. As a matter of fact, that is NOT was he preaching at all; that is not the message he is trying to convey. It was about finding moral clarity, living together in peace and tranquility without government invasion, and oppression; he’s not saying to repeal or dismiss your religious beliefs…but to put them on hold for just a minute and consider each other as brothers and sisters, rather, than as a distinct group- enemies- that execrates each other for our vast differences. But you know what I think? I honestly don’t really think he really cared for the label. I suppose he wanted to find some kind of “middle ground” by seeking out wisdom and through keeping an open-mind and achieving spirituality through believing in one another.
John and wife Yoko Ono, engaged in “Bed-Ins for peace” that would last for two weeks. These were basically sit-ins groups of protestors would remain seated in front of an establishment until their demands were met. Initially, these were non-violent objections which opposed unjust war efforts and set out to promote a message of peace. I think he wanted to be remembered for the principles he stood for such as Native American rights, African-American rights and he even showed a deep interest in feminism. Lennon was a pacifist when it came down to war; ultimately, he stood for Americans that wanted nothing to do with Vietnam and people that were marginalized during his time. Although, he challenged the U.S. involvement in Vietnam with one of his consequential songs, “Give Peace a Chance.”
In 1972, John Lennon endured a major problem. It is crucial to note that Lennon was in a prolonged conflict with the U.S. government due to his political activism and influence on public opinion. As of living in New York for a year with Ono, there was a fight to have them deported during Nixon’s reelection when he grew angry at the anti-war rallies. Furthermore, pushed John over the edge, so he urged his fans to vote against Nixon. When the Nixon Administration found out they ordered Lennon to deport the country and claimed he had been admitted to the country illegally and pleaded guilty to drug possession in London in 1968.
Presumably, the immigration law at the time did not enable the admission of anyone convicted of drug offense. However, the hardships Lennon and Yoko faced were not going down without enough determination and persistence to get them through it.
You might be wondering why the establishment was against him? But it is simply because they felt threatened because they knew that John Lennon had the power to sway the general public over to his side and they continued to disapprove of him due to what he stood for…..The system knew that he could influence a different voting outcome than expected. What made him an easy target was nobody ever really was THAT much of an outspoken war protestor. Anti-war advocates were very uncommon especially during war time but because he had status, charisma was admired by millions over the world that did not get in the way of speaking out against the system.
In 1974, the infamous Watergate Scandal occurred and as you know from there Nixon resigned and effectively ending the grueling battle against John Lennon. The following year the New York Supreme Court overturned the Deportation Order arguing that, “Lennon’s four-year battle to remain in our country is testimony to his faith in this American dream….The courts will not condone selective deportation based upon secret political grounds,” There we have it, so that concluded the five-year conflict between Lennon and the FBI. Consequently, a few months later a green card had arrived for John and Yoko with the help of powerful friends who petitioned the Immigration and Naturalization Services to hinder the deportation process.
So now you might be wondering what makes John Lennon the 51st shade of Grey?
Well I think it’s due to his enigmatic, unfathomable, ambiguity and peculiar outlook on the world that made him a puzzle to the general public. In some instances, he is still a figure in the dark. Although, John Lennon was like a Morris Code that people were trying to decipher or decode in which many people misunderstood what he stood for and what his goals really accomplished. It really is easy when you stop and think about his legacy; he was a man that stood for change and stood up for his rights when he felt he had an important message to deliver that provoked the anger of not only the US government itself but many people around the world that don’t understand his character….On December 8th, it is imperative to remember how one person made a difference in our culture by speaking for the people that felt silenced- like they had no voice- and to empower each other through exercising our true freedoms to influence justice and sovereignty all around the world!