In 1984, my hometown of Sarajevo hosted the Winter Olympic Games and, to the day, the meaning and the emotion of this beautiful event remains with me. It was wonderful to see all the countries coming together, united in a common mission: to show the prowess of their athletes’ abilities, the spirit of competition, and a focus on human excellence and victory. My family later lived in what became known as the “Olympic Village,” a series of condos built for the hosting of the event. So, it is fair to say I have a soft spot for the Olympic Games.
Today, amidst the disappearance of national differences and sovereignty, it is getting harder to appreciate the spirit of the Olympics. In fact, the spirit has left the building, and the soul has been annihilated from the event. This year’s Olympics are being held in Tokyo, one year late because of the COVID-19 delay. I confess I have lost interest in it,primarily because of the oppressive wokeification and dehumanization of cultures, which has inevitably seeped into the Olympics as well.
At the opening ceremony, as the lighted, flying drones above the stadium formed planet Earth, a Japanese Suginami Junior Chorus ushered the event in with John Lennon’s depressing anti-life anthem, “Imagine.” As the chorus faded, virtual projections of John Legend, Keith Urban, Angélique Kidjo, and Alejandro Sanz joined in to sing Hans Zimmer’s arrangement of the song.
“Imagine” is one of those songs that is either loved or hated, and in many ways reflects a generational gap. Usually, naïve elites and inexperienced youths love the song, while thinking adults loathe it.
The singers tried (too hard) to demonstrate emotion during the song. They contorted their faces in ways they “imagine” suggest to us they are enlightened beings who know how to fix a broken and fragmented world. If only the rest of us stubborn folks could follow their lead, the world would be a better place. No matter what our differences, we can all come together as one.
In fact, it would be better if we eliminated all those pesky differences, like religion and the ridiculous obsession with private property. “Imagine there’s no heaven,” sings the one voice of globalism. “Imagine all the people/Living for today.” Well, why not? The COVID-19 crisis and looming climate change have taken away any notion of the future, so what else is there to do besides scroll down the Twitter feed and forget about our troubles?
“Imagine there’s no countries” too, because why tackle such divisive questions as national sovereignty? One centralized and monolithic world government could manage things much better, and besides, why should separate cultures even exist? It’s the only way to “Imagine all the people/Living life in peace.” We need to “give peace a chance,” to quote another one of Lennon’s trite collectivist songs. In 1990, commenting on Lennon’s song, William F. Buckley, Jr. observed, “Well, we certainly want to imagine a world in which everyone lives in peace, but you see, that is only possible in a world in which people are willing to die for causes.”
Imagine nothingness. Imagine joylessness. Imagine life without love, mercy, faith, hope, and justice. This is the essence of the song’s message, as it is of the performers who took part in it. More than anything, “Imagine” is the anthem of despair most befitting this current age with its impositions of collectivist culture. It is a song that aptly captures today’s transient and fleeting approach to life.
Globalist ideology has permeated society so that we no longer recognize the natural basis for human differences. These differences among ethnicities and national identities and the respect that is required for us to live with them remind us, as well, of the respect we need to cultivate as individual people in order to live peacefully with others whose lives are composed of their own memories, sorrows, joys, and hopes for the future. Imagining an end to that is to imagine a dystopian nightmare.
It goes without saying that life is more complex than Lennon’s and Yoko Ono’s song. What exactly do they even mean by “peace”? Is there really such a thing as a pure peaceful condition? After all, even a meditative bliss eventually dissipates. And what about the persistence of evil and the need for ethics? Human beings are fallible, and whether you are referencing Original Sin, or even something outside of any specific religious framework, history has shown us that hubris is real.
The proponents of life according to “Imagine” are engaging in primitive emotionalism that exists only within a collectivist framework, and not on the notion of actual human community. Communities exist precisely because of traditions. The globalists contradict themselves because a world without any differences negates any authentic diversity among human beings. The celebration of diversity they appear to demand is only for the most superficial of differences, like physical characteristics. They don’t celebrate authentic human diversity, like differences of opinion.
But life is also not a sentimental story, and more often than not, it’s filled with tragedy. For example, it is true that religious and political differences caused many wars. It is also true, however, that they have been the cause of great dialogues and lasting friendships between people, as well as the source of inspiration and true imagination for some of humanity’s greatest achievements. There is nothing wrong with uniting in our common humanity, but if we attempt to do that at the expense of the riches of many great traditions, it may not even be possible.
There is a wonderful phrase in the Jewish tradition—tikkun olam—which translates as “repair of the world.” The phrase has come to mean many different things throughout the centuries. For some, the focus is purely on justice and building a flourishing society; for others, the focus is on the rejection of false gods in order to fix the broken world.
Our society (and this is true globally, not just nationally or locally) is indeed broken. Rampant attempts at totalitarianism and the denial of human dignity are overwhelming in the present. In addition, people feel either powerless or indifferent. As the Czech president and dissident Václav Havel (1936-2011) correctly observed, “The tragedy of modern man is not that he knows less and less about the meaning of his own life, but that it bothers him less and less.”
Surely, this world needs to be healed and repaired but that is going to take moral seriousness and responsibility. It is not something that can be achieved, or even understood, in the singing of silly, sentimental songs that imply a condition of perpetual despair. Any actual repair must be grounded in recognition of human differences and the inherent dignity of the individual that wholeheartedly rejects transient ambiguity.