Oh, the words of hope for peace, if you want it. John & Yoko, with the Harlem Community Choir, released this single in December 1971 in protest of the Vietnam War. Two years earlier, they rented billboards around the war stating “WAR IS OVER (if you want it),” which is sung by the Harlem choir throughout most of the song.
Amazing how, 40 years later after they posted their words of peace around the world, we continue to pray for the same thing today.
Lennon’s death in 1980 triggered this song’s rebirth, and it’s been a popular holiday classic ever since. My memories of this song, as I’ve mentioned elsewhere in previous posts, are founded in Christmas 1981, when performing shows around the Baltimore area for hospitals, children centers, and nursing homes.
Today, from Yoko and John’s Christmas whispers to their children Kyoko and Julian to the final notes of the Harlem Choir 3 minutes later, this song still evokes strong emotions and a belief that Peace is Possible.
One of the things I struggle with this time of year is the senseless disregard for kindness and love. The hectic shopping, the careless driving, and the overall frantic lifestyle of countless shoppers who put themselves and their missions above all other things (including the safety of the lives of others) saddens me greatly. This year, a day has not gone by during the countdown where my life was not put in danger by a careless driver who put himself above all others, forcing me and many other drivers to swerve, slam on our breaks, or pray through clenched teeth as we gripped the wheel tight.
Much like we continue to wish that such individuals would be more respectful to others, we keep asking for a return to peace, that such a way of life is possible. I propose that we begin with peace instead of return to it. Maybe if we make the conscious decision to be peaceful when we wake, all of our actions and interactions will begin with peace.
Think how profoundly that would change our lives. For you and for me.
If you live in Baltimore or anywhere else in the state of Maryland, you missed a day of shopping yesterday with all of the stores shut down because of the snow storm. The next four days might be filled with a greater anxiety and rush to “get things done” before Christmas Eve on Thursday. Those who were crazy and disrespectful these last few weeks will most likely be even more frantic, putting our lives — and the lives of our children — at great risk.
Do your part. Begin with Peace. End the Christmas Rush War with a determination to keep in focus the true meaning of the holiday season. Lennon tells us that War is Over if we want it.
Yes, John. I want it. May peace reign here in Baltimore and all over the world.
I hope you want it too. Make the decision, and let it begin with You!