Remembering December 8, 1980 and John / Dec. 2004
I was a senior in a college in New Jersey typing yet another sociology paper on my clunky old “portable” typewriter (yes, it did buckle into its own carrying case, but, because of its weight it was like carting around an anchor). It was late in the evening — a Monday, I think. The little black and white TV was on in the background. Suddenly newscasters broke into the broadcast to announce that John Lennon was dead. The moment is seared into my memory. The Beatles always seemed like a mythical group to me as I was too young to appreciate them in their heyday. Their music was funny, wise, harmonious, uplifting, thoughtful. That one of them who incessantly preached peace (and had such a wonderful sense of humor) could have died in such a violent manner just up the turnpike from my college didn't seem possible. It didn't seem fair. It just wasn't right.
I was thinking last night about how the world has changed in the past 30 years. There were no 24-hour cable news channels, no internet sites to check for details, no email or cell phone or text messaging to contact friends. You were left in your own surroundings with your own thoughts and feelings about what had happened. The girl who lived across the hall from me, Joanne (a smart, efficient biology major from a town in north Jersey that I'd never heard of), was visibly upset by the news. And the memory of her emotion has stuck with me much longer than the incessant recitation of facts and video feeds that we get on any of our media devices today.
Sadly, we seem to be no closer to the peace that John Lennon imagined. I find myself wishing he was here to lead “bed-ins” and peace rallys. To challenge the pundits with his wit. To be a guiding light. But maybe his example is for we who are here: what can each of us do every day to promote the cause of peace?