If Los Angeles is the city of angels, what is New York? Perhaps it is the city of kindness? Peace? Surely you can ask any taxi driver or listen to any upper-class passerby you bump into on Fifth Avenue and you will learn this is not the case. Okay, so we’re not the friendliest place in the world - I don’t think any New Yorker is losing sleep over this. Now that we’ve established this, I dare you to dream. Dream of hundreds of people circling around. They are discussing, singing, reminiscing. Dream of the harmony not only existing in their voices but in their souls. Dream, New York City, dream.
On December 8, 1980, Beatle John Lennon was gunned down outside his apartment at the Dakota Building on New York’s West Side. Whether you label Lennon an artist, musician, revolutionary or just a human being, his murder produced shock waves across the world.
These waves are still seismic 25 years later. Crowds still gather at Strawberry Fields in Central Park every December 8 to honor Lennon’s death. Thousands have made the pilgrimage to participate in the singing, discussions, and reminiscing. I went last year to pay homage to one of my musical inspirations and had a memorable experience.
Among the candlelight and artwork across the Imagine mosaic, as the masses circled and sang Beatles and Lennon songs, something was wrong. The problem wasn’t in our vocal chords, or the lack of harmony - in fact, one woman was playing the kazoo like you would not believe. No, the problem was between two men who began to quarrel because they both wanted a better spot. A shove turned into a heated argument. Imagine all the people ... fighting.
As “White Album” rang through my ears, so did the bickering of two terribly misplaced people. How can peace have a chance? In what was supposed to be a makeshift sanctuary, we still find a way to fight. It is a reflection of our times and what we’ve begun to see as the norm. Fighting is okay if it serves your own selfish purposes.
When John Lennon asked us if we could give peace a chance, was his train of thought as off as David Koresh’s when he ordered his cult members to remain inside a burning compound in Waco, Texas? Or Charles Manson’s when he led his order on a murderous spree in the 1960s? Was John Lennon this insane? Unfortunately, I am restricted to the notion that yes, he was. When peace cannot be shared for one night at a peaceful ceremony, when will it be?
I am not denouncing human integrity or passing judgment on our world, I simply believe world peace will never exist. We are farther from it than we are from a competent government in New Jersey, which is an issue we’ll save for another day. Until then, Gray’s Papaya on 71st Street offers an excellent assortment of hot dogs.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.