‘Give peace a chance’

Thursday, July 17, 2008 | 10:00 a.m. CDT; updated 10:41 a.m. CST, Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The lyrics are simple, yet they became the theme to the people’s peace movement.

It’s Sunday morning and I finally enjoyed a wind down on this declared day of rest. I sat with a mug of coffee, bagel with cream cheese and the television tuned to, what else, CBS News’s “Sunday Morning.”

This Sunday, as with many Sundays, there was a cacophony of stories: the life and day of the mayfly; the day and life of Tillie, the abstract artist Jack Russell terrier; and the entire life of Doris Day. Somewhere in the middle was a story of an eight-day week and a song that I have been listening to, off and on, over the last eight days while unpacking and hanging pictures.

Now in our new home, I have reentered the world of local, state, national and world news. It is interesting, confusing and frightening to return after being away for a while. The deaths of Tony Snow and Dr. Michael DeBakey are saddening. The discovery of possible water on Mars and Earth’s moon are exciting. A practice “raid” by Israel and the uncertain of aggression by the U.S. both aimed at Iran and the practice firing of midrange missiles by the nation in question; all muscle flexing, all unsettling. All brings me back to music, television and war.

While working in the house, we have also been listening to a great sampling of 1960s and ’70s music, most titled “Greatest of ...,” though you and I can certainly argue if the music of the company’s selections are really the greatest.

The artist who catches the imagination of the 20-somethings carrying boxes without effort and this Boomer sweating just a bit too much, is “The Greatest of John Lennon.” There is nothing bad from this man. One song in particular, with its powerful refrain, echoed throughout the house, is part of the heartbeat of the planet. The words came alive during a 1969 publicity stunt in a Montreal hotel room, creating, at least in my humble opinion, one of the greatest songs ever. OK, second; you most likely have one better.

“All we are saying is give peace a chance.”

The lyrics are a bit whimsical and confusing. Many of the words carry musical or poetic license, but the sound and tune have become deeply imbedded in our minds, even if we do not remember the words at all. “Everybody’s talk about da dit dit da dit dit da dit dit something.’ If you listen to the tape, you will remember that one can hardly understand any of the lyrics, but the refrain is loud and clear and repeated for the last three minutes of the recording.

“All we are saying is give peace a chance.” Are you singing?

The “Sunday Morning’s” story is of that day almost 40 years ago, about 16-year-old Gail Renard who only wanted to interview John and Yoko for her school paper and was invited to stay for the eight-day bed-in. When Lennon finished writing the lyrics on a piece of cardboard, he handed them his new friend Gail to reproduce large enough for everybody in the room to read. By the way, Gail kept the original until Thursday, July 10, when the cardboard was sold at a Christie’s auction for more than $833,000.

Maybe there are some justified wars, like saving the people of Darfur and the Congo, to save the lives of millions. Fighting in Afghanistan, where the real enemies of America reside. These can be justified causes.

Yet, today, the American people are fully aware of the misguided road we have taken down, now engaged in a great war with no meaning, no resolution and no end in sight. Our two presumptive presidential candidates really need to read American history and the words of Gandhi, Churchill and Roosevelt before talking of war and peace. Maybe they should listen to the music of Lennon a bit more. ‘Give Peace a Chance’ may be only one of many lyrics Lennon wrote to inspire. Maybe this election cycle our future president may also hear “Power to the People.”

Right on.

David Rosman is a business and political communications consultant, professional speaker and college instructor in communications, ethics, business and politics. He welcomes your comments at


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