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John Lennon's 'Idealism'

September 10, 1988

In "The Flip Side of 'Lennon' Bio" (Sept. 3), Robert Hilburn misses the point when it comes to the importance of Albert Goldman's revelations about John Lennon in "The Lives of John Lennon."

Hilburn says that Goldman should have considered Lennon's music more fairly; he wants us to remember the idealism of songs like "Imagine."

I grew up with the Beatles. The arc of my maturation matched exactly the arc of the Beatles' career. Their songs had a great effect on me and I knew most of the lyrics and yes, I remember the idealism they preached.

But it is also important to remember (and this is why Goldman's book is valuable) that when someone preaches idealism but lives on the edge of madness, what you might end up with is a kind of crazed idealism like "Hair Peace," "Make Love not War," or updated '60s thinking like "One Planet, One People, Please!"

Unfortunately, "please" doesn't cut it in the world struggle for power. Idealism must be rooted in real thinking. Our country has yet to overcome the social damage of "recreational" drugs and "radical chic."

So yes, it does matter to me who the man behind the Beatles' preaching was, just as it should matter to all of us who the real Jimmy Bakker/Jimmy Swaggart are. Only fanatic and foolish followers of those men would say it doesn't make a difference what kind of lives they lead.

It does make a difference. Otherwise, we will always be fools led by bigger fools and our children will end up having candlelight vigils at their graves.


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