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Lennon Song Begs the Question "What If We Were More Cooperative and Less Competitive?"

Updated on January 19, 2023
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Cygnet Brown is a high school and middle school substitute teacher. She is the author of fourteen books and a long-time gardener.

Our Competitive Culture

Our culture in the United States has always prided itself in the idea that competition is based on the idea that there would be losers and there would be winners. We believe that some people have more value than others. That a man's worth is based on how much stuff he can accumulate over his lifetime. What if we decided that the way we thought was wrong? What if we decided that we would put more value in helping others than in having money in the bank?

What if instead of seeing the world as having a lack, we started seeing it as a place where we viewed the world through the eye of more than enough for everyone and that all we had to do was cooperate with one another? What if we recognized money as the illusion that it is, and we learned that money truly was no object?

John Lennon's Song "Imagine" Revisited

The idea that I present did not originate with me. the first time I heard of this concept originated in a song. Who could forget the song Imagine sung by John Lennon? It was co-produced by John and Yoko Ono along with Phil Spector. They began recording the song in Lennon's home studio at Tittenhurst Park. England, in May of 1971, and finished it at the Record Plant in New York City, in July. The album was released in September and the single was released a month later in the US. The song peaked at #3 on the Billboard top 100 and the album reached number one in the UK in November. It became the most commercially successful album of Lennon's solo career. The song finally reached number one in the UK in December 1980 after his death. Imagine is among the top 100 most performed songs of the 1900s.

The religious community thought the song was blasphemous and the business world thought it was a communist plot, but what if we did just for a moment imagine what it would be like if we stopped competing and started working together? Just what would the world be like?


Imagine Seeing the Individual Instead of the Stereotype

In the first section, I alluded to the idea that the concept of cooperation is attached to the idea that more than enough exists for everyone. In this section, Let's look at another problem, social injustice. I am not going to say that I don't have biases, but I know that I do. My biases however don't tend to be based on bigotry but based on the idea that bigotry isn't a big deal. But in the lives of many people, bigotry is a big deal.

A little over a year ago I was working, going door to door. My trainer was African American. He was a genuinely hard-working man who was supporting his family with this job in which rejection is part of the hard facts of the job.

He and I went into a posh neighborhood and we thought we would have a great day, but house after house, we were greeted with hostility. I thought, "okay so we're just having a bad day." but he said, "these people are prejudiced." I thought that was unlikely, but I didn't say anything, but I decided to just watch.

We went to a house of a couple and the husband was very kind and invited us in. The woman stood with a closed stance and gave her husband a dirty look. We tried to discuss what we were selling. When questions were asked, they were not directed toward the trainer, but they were directed toward me. Finally, the woman said to the husband, "I can't believe that you let that man in here."

I finally realized what he said was true. These people were prejudiced, and I was ashamed to be associated with white people like that. After that, my eyes are more open to the realization that our grouping of individuals into social groups does each of us a disservice. The sad thing is, too many people are not even aware that they are looking at others this way. It's time we wake up and imagine what the world would be like if we started seeing the individual rather than the stereotype.

Imagine that we could look beyond prejudice and see the individual rather than the label.

Imagine Valuing Education over Entertainment?

Did you know that Robert Downey, Jr. made $75 million dollars acting between 2012 and 2013? Did you know that the average income of an NFL Quarterback is $1,970,982? However, on the other hand, the average income of an elementary and secondary school teacher in the United States is a paltry $56,383.

Imagine what it would be like if we placed a higher value on educating our children above entertainment. What if we paid teachers just half of what we pay the average income of an NFL quarterback? Would we have better teachers? Would our children get better educations? If we stopped blaming them for everything that they do on a daily basis for our children.

Imagine the concept of teaching cooperation in school. Imagine the idea of encouraging every child to focus not on grades, but on how valuable each individual is in the bigger scheme of things. What kind of world could we create if we valued the education process?

Imagine Viewing Homelessness as a Love Challenge Rather than as a Crime

What if we stopped looking at homelessness as a challenge to love rather than looking our noses down at those individuals? Imagine what it would be like if we could give homeless people a place to sleep every night, no matter their circumstances.

Imagine what it would be like if we were to look into their faces and see the individual with his or her hopes and dreams. Imagine what it would be like if we could look at the homeless person as someone who is desperate for our love. What if we made it our goal to love the homeless and inch back into the human race? Imagine what it would be like if we actually gave it to them.

Imagine Plants and Animals as Man's Co-inhabitants on This Planet

Imagine what it would be like if we saw nature as co-inhabitants of this grand planet that we call earth. Imagine that we could respect those other creatures and recognize that we are all on this planet together.

Isn't it sad that if humans departed from this earth, the rest of nature would flourish and bring itself back into balance? Imagine what it would be like if humans decided to work with nature rather than exploit it. Imagine cooperating with nature rather than subduing it.

Imagine that abundance exists in the fact that enough exists for everyone. No need to exploit it, we simply need to nurture it. It is in the nurture that more will come. It is in the competition that someone will be left with not enough.

Is It Crazy to Imagine?

I don't think that I'm crazy to imagine a world of cooperation rather than a world of competition. I think John Lennon had a point. I don't see "Imagine" as blasphemous. I see it as a theme song for the vision I see playing in my head. I think that if more people had this dream that we are all valuable, that each individual has a place on this planet and each person is special, we would be living in paradise.

Can you imagine? I can. So what if people call me names for believing this way? Imagining a better world is worth being called a few bad names.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2014 Cygnet Brown


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