23 Dec Lennon vs. The Cynics
Imagine a hot, crowded press conference, with some of Canada’s top journalists taking part.
They’re out to grill Beatle John Lennon on his plans to sell world peace; to find out whether Lennon and his followers are really out for personal gain in the peace campaign.
More than 50 journalists, half a dozen TV cameras, a score of tape recorders and a multitude of microphones are crammed into the Ontario Science Centre lecture room.
Spot lamps overheat the room and the reporters. The atmosphere is tense and expectant.
The room goes quiet as Lennon enters, looking more like a latter day saint than a leader of the new generation.
Lennon, all in black, his hair the way Jesus wore it, is relaxed and affable. Soon the more reactionary journalists are asking pointed questions about personal profit motives and exploitation of the peace thing.
He says the performers in next summer’s peace festival will be paid, and he doesn’t know whether he will be. Someone demands to know the cost of it all.
Lennon: “No matter how much it costs, it is cheaper than somebody’s life.” Score Lennon one, cynics nothing.
“There will be no fiddling,” says Lennon. “We know you fellows will be watching like mad to see if anything happens.” Laughter. Lennon makes it 2-0.
The reporters are warming to an honest man. The questioning takes on a more friendly manner.
A TV Journalist sitting behind me has been noisy and boorish throughout the conference, asking his colleague (so everyone can hear): “Tell me, do these long- hairs view me with as much distaste as I view them?” Things like that. It makes you sick.
He stands up, interrupts another questioner to demand of Lennon: “Do you believe in God?”
There is silence. The question is fair enough, but the harshness of his tone causes embarrassment.
Lennon replies simply: “I believe in God, as a supreme power. He is neither good nor bad, wrong nor right, black nor white. You do what you want with him.”
“God is like electricity. You can kill people with it, or light up a room with it.”
“God is what you make of him. God is.”
The tasteless reporter sits down, deflated. The silence now is a respectful one, and it’s game, set and match to Lennon.
And when Lennon is asked whether there will be a car race at the Mosport festival, and replies: “There’s no car race. The race is for peace,” the journalists break into spontaneous applause.
And journalists never, never applaud in the course of duty.