In 1969 John Lennon and his wife Yoko held what they called a “bed in for peace” in two international cities, Amsterdam and Montreal; they took to their bed for two weeks in protest of the Vietnam war. Of course they were newly married so I’m not sure it was an inconvenience; in fact given the cultural climate of make love not war, it is more likely that they simply wanted to be together in private for an extended period of time. I think you could call it an “altruistic selfish act”, two words that seldom actually make sense together seem to be a fair description of this particular act of defiance. I like to think of it as a ” fuck you I’m going to bed.” proclamation to the US Administration of the time. Strange to think that a British man and his Japanese wife decided to take a “stand,” more like a lay-in really, in two other countries to protest America’s intervention in North Vietnam. I guess given that John couldn’t come to America because of that little cannabis conviction Montreal was the next best/closest place, well that and their Bahamas hotel room was too hot . I guess the best made beds, like plans, also sometimes go awry too.
Now I personally understand the concept of wanting to go to bed for a week and only come out for food, drink and an occasional shower or trip to the water closet, but I harbor no illusions that my actions will make the world a better place.
Todays newspaper proclaims the deaths of 12 people in a theater in Colorado. Why a young man bought a movie ticket, and 6,000 rounds of ammunition, and three loaded weapons so that he could attend the latest batman movie and shoot up the place killing and maiming perfect strangers is a total mystery to me. I guess we’ll have all sorts of people speculate on his motivation; the gunman will also get some time in the spotlight, perhaps that was his singular goal. Whatever drove him to commit the heinous acts of the other night, one thing is certain innocent people are dead, lives and bodies and families wrecked along a path of destruction for what appears to be an act of evil perpetrated for no better reason than that he had the desire and could do it.
Maybe we as a society have bought in to the wrong action figure, the wrong concept of fighting back, the wrong idea of what it is to be human in todays society. I wonder what you think of John Lennon’s concept of passive resistance, and concerted non participation of the war effort in the late 1960’s. I also wonder what you think of the actions of the gunman in Colorado. Is there any honor or integrity in the thought process that resulted in the murder of 12 people? How did the desire to kill random individuals become so strong that this young man failed to evaluate the ramifications of his actions, not for himself , but for others impacted by his behavior. How did he lose his humanity, and why?
Yoko Ono Lennon has acknowledged that they were naive in thinking that their actions would matter one whit to the Vietnam War efforts, but what they may have accomplished is more symbolic of the age old “which is mightier question. ” Maybe John and Yoko have something after all, maybe the bed is mightier than the sword. It’s certainly more comfortable.