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COUNTERPUNCH

McLure's 'Lennon' Has a Timely Message for Us

March 17, 1997|KATE RANDOLPH | Kate Randolph is artistic director of Your Own Sky theater company, which is staging "The Day They Shot John Lennon" at Ventura Court Theater in Studio City

For anyone whose experience in the late '60s and early '70s was one of "facile platitudes and stereotypes" with too much that remained "unexamined," as Philip Brandes opines in his review of James McLure's "The Day They Shot John Lennon," the play might be an irksome reminder of vacuousness and hypocrisy (" '60s Issues Resurface in 'John Lennon,' " Calendar, March 7). But for those of us for whom the decade represented a true ideological revolution--and, as Lennon says, "I'm not the only one"--McLure's piece is at its very least an astute commentary.

We sincerely hung our hopes upon those ideas and ideals, certain that we were creating an unstoppable movement toward a more enlightened world. McLure offers us "failed boomers" relief, an opportunity to laugh at our own naivete, express our disappointment in ourselves and, finally, rejoice in the discovery of a real solution to our search.

As the century draws to a close, many of us have finally found a workable answer, one that was no doubt lurking beneath those issues many years ago. The Lennon play's climactic scene drives home this answer: individual responsibility.

An obvious answer? A "painfully earnest" answer, as Brandes calls it? Perhaps. But one that "delves past the perimeters," contrary to what Brandes says.

If you can show me the society in which this ideal of taking individual responsibility has truly taken root, I'll show you a society that no longer needs writers to write about it. Show me a world in which people have stopped blaming their environment for their woes, stopped feeling victimized by circumstances, stopped feeling helpless in the face of their adversities and I'll agree wholeheartedly with Brandes that the reiteration of such ideas is exhaustive. When we have stopped "waiting for God, 'cause he ain't there," as McLure says, and started helping ourselves.

In the meantime, the call for personal responsibility still has a place on the pen of every writer. As we approach a new millennium, it is still my hope that "some day you will join us, and the world will be as one." For sure, we will not get there any other way.

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