“We were all on this ship in the sixties, our generation, a ship going to discover the New World. And the Beatles were in the crow’s nest of that ship.”

For some, the Beatles are still in that crow’s nest.

In the first seven days of availability on iTunes John Lennon and the Beatles back catalogue sold 450,000 albums and 2 million singles. Apparently John Lennon still serves as our muse though, today, we are reminded of his tragic loss thirty years ago.

Thirty years ago today David Chapman gunned down John Lennon on the streets of New York. If notoriety is what he wanted Chapman did not succeed. The star of Lennon, however, could not be vanquished.

What would Lennon say today had he lived to see it?

Historian Daniel Boorstin asked the same question of Thomas Jefferson. How did Jefferson’s unique worldview affect the generations that followed? Boorstin wrote:

“What the Jeffersonians had to offer the world was not a new philosophic conception, not a novel political theory, nor a metaphysical system. What finally characterized their thought was less its specific theological or metaphysical doctrines than its attitude toward all theology and metaphysics. Philosophy was to be a by-product of right and fruitful activity: the fulfillment of man was not in theoretical formulation nor in abstract comprehension of the universe, but in the life he led and the society he built. The genius of Jeffersonian philosophy was intuitive and practical; reflection, speculation and contemplation were given second place. Its cosmology was supposed to spring directly from the sensitive observer’s response to environment. The precepts of the good life were not the conclusion of laborious ratiocination but the immediate perception of the healthy moral faculty. Government was not the expression of a political theory, but the largely unreflective answer of healthy men to the threat of tyranny,” (from The Lost World of Thomas Jefferson, Daniel J. Boorstin, 1993).

Sounds a whole lot like John Lennon. If Lennon were alive today one could be fairly certain he would say:

“All we are saying is give peace a chance.” The lessons of Vietnam, a war he strongly opposed, did not seem to teach us much. We continue to make its mistakes over and over.

“All you need is love.” People have labeled the Obama presidency post-racial. It has become readily clear that the American people now want a post-partisan Congress.

“Come together.” Ecumenicalism, or at least a sense of religious toleration, has been at the core of our success here in America. The world at large, however, cannot seem to learn its merits. Religious tension and tribal competition still are responsible for most of the military conflicts around the world.

Boorstin reminded us that: “The Jeffersonian philosophy was futuristic without being utopian or apocalyptic.” Jefferson left a worldview that if adhered to was self sustaining. Jefferson left a guide that still directs us today.


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