One of the most influential musicians of the 20th century, John Lennon, is remembered for the impact he made all around the world with the strong lyrics and the smooth tone he had in all his songs. In his hit song Imagine, Lennon speaks on how nationalism and religion have always been a top cause of conflicts all around the world.
Nationalism is a sense of consciousness exalting one nation above all others and emphasizing on its culture and interests as opposed to those of other nations or supranational groups (Merriam-Webster, n.
d.). This way of thinking is the motor of many countries to achieve empowerment in every potency-based aspect possible. When John Lennon sings Imagine there’s no countries, he knew people were gripped to their countries and won’t easily let go of that mindset. Since he knew this would cause trouble, he then added the line It isn’t hard to do to try and convince the public and let them understand his message.
He was speaking about how some of society’s problems could, without conflict, be resolved by simply sharing as if we were all one country, which can be perceived when he goes on to sing the line Nothing to kill or die for.
It is evidenced with the First World War, when a young Bosnian Serb nationalist named Gavrilo Princip assassinated Franz Ferdinand, event which touched off the Great War (Tucker, 1998, p. 6), and also with the Second World War, where Germany’s extreme nationalism was at its highest level with Hitler’s dictatorial government, that nationalist mindsets played an important role in these conflicts.
And with the Vietnam War, during which Lennon released the song in 1971 (Blaney, 2005, p. 91), where the north part of Vietnam looked to take over the south part of the territory, leaves us without a doubt that John Lennon’s thoughts were unquestionably direct against this way of living.
Furthermore, another term Lennon mentions in the song is religion, which is a system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith (Merriam-Webster, n.d.), when he sings and no religion too. He did this to poke the public’s brain and let them know that it too causes conflict and separation between people from different precedencies.
There are some occasions where religion forms part of the nationalist mindset that many wars and disputes are based on. The English are a great example of religious nationalism. They had these ideological staples during the initial migration to New England, between 1620 and 1660, where they saw the world as God’s manifestation and history as a predetermined destiny. (Stephanson, 1995, p. 5) But it wasn’t just an ideology, it was a vision of the United States as a sacred space selected for divine purposes. In addition, they even had a Great Seal that, translated from Latin, read God has blessed this undertaking; a new order for the ages (Stephanson, 1995, p. 5), which can still be found today in a one-dollar bill.
It’s clear that Lennon had a different view on what the world should look like. He didn’t believe in separation, he didn’t believe in differences, he believed in everything that promoted peace and harmony all around the world. With his song Imagine he wanted to transmit a message to everyone that the world would be better off if countries and people would unite and share the world instead of having an absurd nationalist mentality and if they erased dividing religions from their ways of life.
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