If he were alive, John Lennon would be celebrating his 70th birthday tomorrow, October 9. Instead we get to celebrate his legacy. In honor of that I present the above video—a short archival piece entitled “I Met the Walrus,” the making of which has a great little story unto itself. The sound was recorded in 1969, by a 14-year-old Beatles fan, who managed to sneak into Lennon’s hotel room in Toronto during the famous “bed-in” episode and conduct an interview. Lennon was in a particularly pensive mood that day, dissecting the American war machine, dissing militant revolutionaries, and promoting nonviolence. The interview was unearthed 38 years later and turned into an animated short that was nominated for an Academy Award in 2008.
While I always figured Lennon was a proponent of nonviolence (after all, he wrote the words “if you talk about destruction, you can count me out”), I would have never guessed he had such a keen understanding of its dynamics. As he says in the video, “They got all the weapons. They got all the money. And they know how to fight violence because they’ve been doing it for a thousand years. And the only thing they don’t know about is nonviolence and humor.”
While Lennon could often be consumed by the demons of his personal life, he also clearly lived by this belief and devoted much of his public life, creativity and money to various antiwar and peace-related causes. Were he alive today, perhaps the world would know a little more about nonviolence.
In “Reckonings,” producer Stephanie Lepp explores how people change, asking listeners to examine their own assumptions about how far they can stretch their empathy.
Recent criticisms calling the founder of nonviolent theory a Cold Warrior are way off the mark. To rightly evaluate him, we need to understand the role he chose for himself.
A six-week strike by teachers has bolstered a movement against proposed austerity measures targeting Lebanon’s dangerously underfunded education system.