I was fortunate to be born during the Beatles musical revolution in the Sixties. I was young then, but their music transformed the way I thought about life. I love all four Beatles, but I must admit John Lennon is my favorite. I always thought John’s songs held the most profound meanings to life, and it is one of his post-Beatles songs that came to be my favorite called Imagine.
The subject of our imagination has been coming up indirectly in my latest writings. Since this song popped up in my thoughts recently, I figure it is telling me it is time to write directly about the power of our imagination.
One of the most eye-opening lessons that I have learned in the last ten years is about how we take our imagination for granted. Imagination is critical to human evolution as it is our vehicle to express our creativity, our ingenuity, our spirit, and our vision for life. It is hard to live a life void of imagination. For some, imagination is reduced to a child’s activity as if there is a flaw with that assumption. The prophet Jesus reminds us: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Using our childlike imagination reveals the mysteries of life.
Our mind does not drive our future—our imagination does. We can imagine a future with positive potentials or negative ones but left to think only about facts and figures reduces us to a spiritless world unable to move in any direction. Our mind is a database. What do we do with all the words and numbers swirling around in our minds?
Imagination is the tool we use to discover a new answer. Scientists and researchers need their imagination to drive where to look next and what facts to seek out. What if it’s our thoughts that direct our DNA? What if it is a parasite causing this reaction? What if our financial system needs changing? Our mind seeks out facts, but our imagination creates a vision that drives our actions.
You cannot create a movement for change without a vision set by a leader or group. We see many examples, both positive and negative, throughout our history. Adolph Hitler set a negative vision of Aryan supremacy that was adopted by his countrymen and led to World War II. Martin Luther King Jr. set a positive vision of a promised land for African Americans in the United States that created sweeping change through the civil rights movement:
Although John Lennon is a songwriter, I consider him to be a leader for change reflected in his song, Imagine, that is a message of hope for the whole world. Songs are catalysts for grand visions in our imagination and can strike an emotional chord in our hearts. For example, national anthems invoke the love of country for most people. Religious songs inspire us to be better people.
Our world is heading down a dangerous road right now. The overwhelming speed of life cloaks us from the ticking clock that measures out the fate of harrowing challenges that we may have to face soon.
Imagining a world living in harmony and peace has been cast as a fool’s errand by many, but not me. I believe that the only thing that will save us is our imagination. However, it is going to take more than just one leader to promote a new way of seeing the world. We are going to have to imagine a new world together. John Lennon gives us a roadmap through his song of where to begin:
- “Imagine all the people living for today!”
Imagine with me for a moment of a world where we live in the present moment. Imagine people and countries learning from their past mistakes and healing their grief and animosities. Imagine people forgiving themselves and others instead of holding on to their hate. Imagine, through reconciliation, we look for solutions for rehabilitation and for our everyday problems based on what we have learned instead of repeating past mistakes.
- “Imagine all the people living life in peace!”
Imagine a world where humanity finally let’s go of the need for war and destruction. Imagine we finally declare that no country or group has the right to solve their problems through violence. Imagine every year we have a world holiday where we celebrate the destruction of all weapons of war. We call it World Disarmament Day. Of course, the world still has conflicts going on, but there is a structure in place to negotiate settlements, and all countries honor the process
- “Imagine all the people sharing all the world!”
Imagine a future world where every person is provided healthy food, proper shelter, and the freedom to pursue their dreams. Imagine that we have realized that there is plenty of food to be shared, and we have created a fair system of sharing our natural resources. In our new world, the basic needs of every citizen of the world are met. Imagine a future humanity that reduces waste in our systems. Picture yourself walking down any street in any city or town in the world, knowing that every child playing joyfully in the road has a full belly and a soft place to rest their head at night. Imagine a world where children feel safe and free to express themselves and follow their imagination where it leads them. Imagine every adult in the world being able to do the same.
We do not have a limiting future without limiting thoughts! Some people will remain skeptical about the future and buy into our helplessness. They may mark me as another naïve free thinker that does not have a foot planted in reality. This is a label I am willing to take on proudly. I will continue to imagine for them because I know this path will help solve our problems. We are learning our thoughts are energy and energy can be reconfigured. It is what drives human evolution.
I sometimes wonder why we have so much trouble imagining a peaceful planet yet can easily picture a hundred variations of Armageddon. We must change the way we approach our systemic troubles. If not now, then when? The normal ways are not working very well. I think it is appropriate to close with the last set of lyrics from John Lennon’s song Imagine. I join with him wholeheartedly in his invitation to all of us.
“You may say that 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.”