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Posts Tagged ‘John Lennon

A Historical What-If: MLK, JFK, Lennon as Disabled Activists

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by Treadmarkz

I am a history major so, as pointless as I know they are, the “what-if” questions of history are always irresistible to me. This one is also irresistible to me because I often hear of people who lose the ability to walk and say things like “I wish I were dead” or “my life isn’t worth living now.” For those of you who can walk, and ever thought about how you would react if you lost that ability, consider this:

I read a blog posting by Dusiteen where he says that he is looking for the Martin Luther King of the disabled community. A great idea itself, but it set my mind in motion in another direction entirely. So many people who have been considered activists have been gunned down, either for their beliefs, or just randomly. Martin Luther King, John Lennon, John Kennedy. None of these men were afraid to speak their conscience on peace and understanding in general or on specific issues, political or social, that sparked their interest, sympathy or even ire. All of them were shot dead. I can’t help wondering what if they were shot, but not killed. Only left paralyzed.

I realize how morbid this sounds, but think about it. What if John Lennon’s assassin’s bullet had put Lennon in a wheelchair instead of the grave. It would only be natural that some of that activist spirit would be redirected. I wonder what a song by Lennon speaking up for the rights of the disabled would have sounded like. I have written an earlier posting about John Lennon’s charitable activities on behalf of the disabled, but what if he was one of them himself?

And, as President, how would a paraplegic JFK have affected disabled rights legislation? Would the ADA have come more than 20 years earlier than it actually did, had our president been put in a wheelchair during his tenure? FDR was in a wheelchair but he hid it. By the 60s I don’t think that disabilities in America were kept quite as deep in the closet as they were in the 30s when FDR took office. This could have been an opening toward some real progress.

How would Martin Luther King, one of American History’s greatest orators, have used his power to evoke emotion in his audience to effect change for the betterment of the lives of those Americans who, like him, lived life on four wheels?

Obviously, we will never know, but I can’t help trying to construct all different scenarios, how the ’60s and the ’80s would have been reshaped by these disabled activists.  What if the assassin of Gandhi, the grandfather of all political activists, had failed to kill him, but put him in a chair? Why put these men through that, even as a what-if exercise? Well, the world would be a very different place. Just imagine…

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A Whole Lot a-Shakin’ in the Life of Treadmarkz

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by Treadmarkz

I haven’t posted anything in a while because I have had a lot happening in my life. First, I have had a friend review my first draft of a novel, called “War Is Over” and now I am planning to hit that hard to get it ready for publication. If you are unfamiliar with the phrase “War Is Over”, it was an anti-war campaign initiated by John Lennon and Yoko Ono Lennon in 1969. But this is not an anti-war book. It is a pro-understanding book.

Secondly, I have been preparing myself for a job interview. I was interviewed today for a new position at the company I work for. New position, new responsibilities. Fun stuff! If I get the job, I look forward to the challenge! But I shan’t get my hopes up prematurely.

Thirdly, I have been exchanging emails with a couple who have two children with Spina bifida. We will call the couple Tim and Jane. I heard about them through a friend of mine and I jumped at the chance to get to know them. I think it is important for all of us with disabilities to do all we can, first to educate able-bodied people about why we are their equals in every way except some superficial and physical ways.

But also, if we meet people who are raising children with the same disability as we have, to talk with them and, even though every child is different, try to help them to understand what may lie ahead with their child, and offer them advice on how to give the child the best chance they can at being the same as everyone else. I think I can safely say that all disabled people went through that at one time or another.

“I’m different. Why? I don’t want to be different. Wait a minute…sure I am different, but barely. So what? I wish people wouldn’t treat me like I am different!”

And finally, if you have a chance to mentor a child or young adult who is going through the same things you went through at that stage of life, it is important to do so. It’s a legacy thing but it is also a way to do wonders with the knowledge that you have which may be exponentially more valuable than you think. If the parents worry about bringing up a health, happy child who is equal to his peers, think of how the child himself/herself feels!

I look forward to speaking with Tim and Jane again.

John Lennon vs. the Handicapped

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by Treadmarkz

Anyone who has read as much about the Beatles as I have probably knows that John Lennon, as a young adult, was not an outwardly sensitive creature. He maintained a gruff and tough exterior, and was known for adding just a pinch of cynicism to some of Paul’s more happy-go-lucky tunes.

Before being politically-correct was even thought of, Lennon had a ghoulish sense of humor, and was fond of drawing crude sketches of, and doing exaggerated impressions of the physically and mentally handicapped. He once insisted on shaking the hand of a veteran who had lost both arms in WWII. You may not find anything funny about this, and I certainly don’t either. Ironic maybe, but not funny.

However, I take it for what it was: a defense mechanism. I make no excuses for my musical hero. That’s just what it was. Lennon once said that the Beatles became so famous that mothers of disabled children were coming up to them and asking them to just touch their child’s hand in the hopes that it would cure the child’s ailment. The front row at their concerts was always full of kids in wheelchairs almost as though they were waiting to be annointed by the Beatles sweat. Soon this became a horrifying experience for Lennon.

There is a reason that I feel that it was not in John Lennon’s true nature, nor was it his true intention to be cruel toward people less physically or mentally “fortunate” than him. In 1972, Lennon put on a concert to benefit mentally disabled children. It was his way of making right on his past immaturity. And not only did he put on the show, he wanted to release an album of the show for charity as well, but that didn’t happen until 1986. This was 1972, remember, when a charity concert was not a popular thing to do, and if it was done, it was like the Monterrey Pop Festival with a dozen bands on the bill. The 1972 Lennon show was just Lennon and his band.
I have a tattoo which reads “Imagine” because I know that mocking the mentally disabled may have been one of Lennon’s quirks, but open-mindedness and imagination were his message.