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Dan St Yves: Imagine a better world – then help make that happen

For almost two years now, every month when I sit down to write a new column (or find ways to update older ones to sidestep cabin fever-induced writer’s block), not much has changed in our lives. We may be getting to the “political will” end of the global pandemic, but in practical terms, the virus may not quite be done with society. That remains to be seen, and I appreciate that the subject harbours many varied opinions.

Now even more onerous issues have taken over the world stage.

As this month’s column deadline neared, I recalled writing a column for my online space in The Calgary Herald back in 2015. Titled Create YOUR Legacy For A Better World, it appeared on what would have been John Lennon’s 75th birthday. I though that might be worth sharing, in a generally altered, paraphrased form (so as to avoid copyright infringement), what with all that has taken over the headlines.

In a nutshell, back in 2009 my wife and I went to New York City and ended up accidentally enjoying an unplanned Lennon & McCartney experience throughout our trip.

A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity afforded us seats in a taping of The Late Show with David Letterman, whose sole guest for the episode was Sir Paul McCartney, revisiting for the first time since 1964 the very studio where the Beatles exploded into the North American consciousness, on The Ed Sullivan Show.

After the taping, the audience was escorted outside and onto the street in Times Square, into a cordoned-off prime viewing space for a concert on the balcony above the theatre’s entrance by McCartney and his band. Unforgettable.

As it happened, on another day while exploring the city, we ran into the temporary Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Annex NYC in Soho that had opened earlier that year. The centrepiece of that pop-up venue was a special exhibit.

Created by Yoko Ono, John Lennon: The New York City Years was a substantial compendium of their life in NYC, featuring photographs, clothing, hand-written song lyrics and pianos on which Lennon composed the final recordings of his life.

Seeing so many of these iconic items was a bit overwhelming, I have to admit. At the end of the exhibit, leading guests back out, was the most emotional part of the experience. A bloody paper bag containing the clothes Lennon was wearing when he was murdered outside his apartment sat behind a pane of glass. Yoko Ono made this a graphic plea for changes to gun laws, indicating on a plaque that John was “the King Of The World. He had everything any person could want, but at the end of his life, he came back to me in a paper bag.”

A few years after that NYC visit, I posted a question in Imagine Peace, a Facebook and Twitter site that hosted a weekly Yoko Q & A on Fridays. I wondered if that exhibit might resurface again somewhere else. Imagine (no pun intended) my astonishment when Yoko herself responded to my query:

“Things which were good will definitely appear again. We are in an age where all of us are dying for more entertainment. Entertainment, entertainment, entertainment. We are just relying on things other people create. We just pay the admission fee and walk in. Are we forgetting to think for ourselves?”

No question, we’ve all been through a rough go these past few years. Hopefully we are coming out the other side. I hope that the biggest global crisis can be averted, and in that I wish for Ukraine’s life to go back to being peaceful. And I wish for everyone to find the patience and contemplation necessary to recover our own lives free from worry, whatever those worries may be for each person.

Imagine there’s no hunger. Give peace a chance. Lyrical maxims from one man that are provocative calls to thought, but more importantly, action. Consider that your personal invitation from John to make your own contributions to a better, safer world.