Rain streaks my living room window with pearls of water. The sky is luminescent. The Ponderosas are jostled by wind.
I sit at my computer and watch Liel, a young woman with a clear, warm voice, as she sings John Lennon’s “Imagine.” Behind her forty Jewish and forty Arabic children sing together with her. By her side, former president Bill Clinton, invited up from the audience, watches Liel’s lips and tries to sing the words.
I think about the coming New Year’s Eve, when the glitzy Times Square ball will lower to 2011 and glasses will be raised. We’ll make our resolutions, most of which will fizzle out like bubbles in champagne. But Lennon’s hymn to peace still reverberates through my mind as I write this column: Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for...
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace...
It brought tears to my eyes as I listened and watched those eighty children, whose parents are still killing each other, sing of possible peace in the future. That’s what each New Year is all about, isn’t it? A future for our children and theirs?
Even though we’re engaged in two gruesome wars, in the core of my mind I’m optimistic about peace. Someone said that Germany and England could no more go to war again than New York and Virginia. John Kennedy said, and I paraphrase, that we have to take the glory out of war before we can get rid of it. Perhaps if people concentrated on the gory instead.
I intuit, and I may be wrong, that the world is slowly, painfully, uniting. Lennon’s words could well do for a new American National Anthem, to replace: “... rockets; red glare, the bombs bursting in air.”
... No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world ...
“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.”
No, John, there are lots of us. I wish I could go into suspended animation and wake up 500 years from now. Barring ferocious plagues, and asteroids aimed at earth, the Yellowstone super-volcano exploding and doing a job on civilization; a piece of the Canary Islands sliding into the ocean during an earthquake and sending a thousand-foot-high wave racing across the Atlantic to drown our East Coast; same with a chunk of Hawaii — it’s happened before — crushing our West Coast. Besides a few other catastrophes from the violent universe, what might the landscape look like in 500 years? It might be Lennon’s dream of no borders, plenty for everyone, a population controlling its birth rate, green energy and green grass.
Things we can no more imagine than we could the computer before its invention. Even science fiction writers, those wildly prophetic and often accurate soothsayers, did not imagine the computer.
What else have we not yet imagined? Can you imagine us living in harmony with nature and all its creatures? It’s hard to do when I hear gunshots during the hunting season and shiver at the prospect of some wild animal giving up his life in agony and terror for the sake of his meat.
Or will the future landscape be devastation, black ruins of cities. A handful of humans surviving on a subsistence level?
Both scenarios are there within our brains. The Id, with its subconscious demands for its primitive needs, can destroy a whole planet, or the superego, the conscience of the ego, which can be God and Nature’s supreme achievement.
I know I’ll feel thoughtful and a little melancholy as I consider the future possibilities on New Year’s Eve, when the ball drops and the glasses are raised.
Happy New Year, and here’s to Lennon’s dream:
“I hope someday you’ll join us
“And the world will live as one.”
“May the dove rest in the sand.” (1960s wish).