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Imagine there’s no Heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace

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 be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world

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

-Imagine, John Lennon

If you happen to catch this week’s episode of Glee, it featured a classic song from the 70’s whose message still rings true till this day. I am, of course, referring to John Lennon’s immortal masterpiece, Imagine. Yet three decades have passed since the song was first penned and the problems Lennon saw during his time still plague us today.

The local headlines of the past few weeks are a clear sign of how little progress we’ve made since Lennon’s time. Conservatives are still battling liberals over the fate of the RH Bill, gay people still being denied rightful representation by the COMELEC, political clans murdering each other… we still haven’t learned to live as one… perhaps we never will.

When the song first came out, it drew heavy criticism for singling out “country” and “religion” as the chief causes of human suffering. It was branded anti-establishment, heretical, and unpatriotic… like much of the rest of the early freethinking concepts of the hippie generation. But perhaps it was just the bitter truth that a lot of us are afraid to accept, that for all the security and structure these two concepts have provide people across generations, history also shows how much they have also divided us.

People were never really given the privilege of staying neutral. There was always the pressure to make everyone choose a side, Pick a political party, a religion, or a nationality. The world then, as it is now, lost the middle ground. It now operates along tribal lines. Loyalty has supplanted humanity as the primary virtue. To kill, or be killed for an ideal… that is now the greatest honor one can accomplish.

The divisive nature of religion, race, ideology, political affiliation, and a host of other polarities still pit tribe against tribe, neighbor against neighbor, and brother against brother. People still haven’t found a way to look past each other’s differences. It’s like we will never run out of ways to divide ourselves into, no matter how shallow or superficial.

Muslim against Christian, believer against non-believer, conservatives versus liberals, gay versus straight, man versus woman, the have’s versus the have-not’s… take your pick, choose a side, and fight till your dying breath. Lives have been ruined, or worse, ended, because of such man-made differences.

Of all the living things on earth, only people found the time and energy to fight for such abstractions as these… things that we ourselves invented for no other purpose than to draw imaginary lines between ourselves. It makes one wonder if we truly are the most evolved species on this planet. True, we are on top of the food chain, but we don’t seem to find it fit to share our lofty perch with our fellow human beings. There is always the constant struggle to push each other off the edge, trying to label each other as something different, or worse, inferior to ourselves.

Instead of embracing the rich diversity of humanity, we try to enforce conformity. We stubbornly insist that our way is the only way. Anyone outside our own little circles needs to be either subjugated or eliminated. When we start thinking that salvation is only the exclusive privilege of the few, that’s when we lose our humanity.

Who’s to say what another thirty years will bring… will that elusive peace be still left to only to our imagination, or will we finally join hands and be as one? Lennon may be right in a lot of things in his song, but maybe its time we stopped being dreamers. The world needs to wake up and take stock of the situation. We will never really all be as one. Each person is unique unto himself; there is no mould for the human spirit. What we need to learn is tolerance, a sense of open-mindedness. We need to realize that people who don’t look, think, dress, or act the way we do aren’t misguided, only different. There is no need to force conversion or conformity, no matter how highly some people might think their way of life is. That is not nobility… that is bigotry. One person’s life is not automatically better than another’s, based solely on who currently hold the status quo. Every minority group, whether due to political, religious, social, or economic reasons, should be afforded the same opportunities to thrive without condemnation as long as it does no harm to others. Why do we constantly feel the need to put others down to make us feel better about ourselves?

Maybe its time to try a better way… maybe its time to build up rather than tear down… to be more accepting rather than judgmental. But I hope I’m not the only one, I hope someday you’ll join us… and the world will live as one.

DISCLAIMER: The opinions in this post do not necessarily represent the position of the Filipino Freethinkers.