Imagine a world without the terrorist attacks of September 11. Imagine a world without the pandemic, the millions of dead, the conspiracy theorists, the anti-vaxxers. Imagine the 21st century as John Lennon and an entire generation envisioned it 50 years ago.
It is almost impossible. As impossible as it is to predict the future, it is just as impossible to imagine a world without the events that dramatically changed everything: from the way we travel to our relationships with other people, from politics, religion and the economy to the sense of security, fear, suspicion, justified or unjustified cruelty.
Lennon was not just daydreaming. He saw reality from the first verses: there is no heaven, there is no hell, above us only sky. “Imagine all people living for today.”
In this way, tragic anniversaries, earth-shattering events – such as natural disasters, pandemics, losses – redirect people’s lives. How could it be otherwise?
On Wednesday, US President Joe Biden pointed to a “minority of Americans” who, supported by a “minority of elected officials,” prevent the US from “turning the corner.” Eighty million unvaccinated Americans make up 25% of the population; that 25% “can cause a lot of damage – and they are,” Biden said, adding that tolerance and persuasion are over and compliance is beginning.
From the superpower to Greece, there is no more room for “tolerance,” there is no time to lose.
In the 50 years since “Imagine” was written, and especially in the last 20 years, daydreaming has taken on the characteristics of the worst nightmare. Conspiracy theories have replaced the transformative power of the imagination, paranoia has taken the place of fruitful obsession, which, at times, may be linked to naivety, but is still a fuel for creation. Why can’t we imagine all people “living in peace”?
Among the losses we are counting is the ability to daydream, which recedes as the darkness of negativity gains ground. Daydreaming retreats, but does not disappear, as long as Lennon sings softly, “You may say I’m a dreamer/ But I’m not the only one.”