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From “PROMISE: A Memoir”
© 2011 by Mark Manley

A smokin’ Joe Farrell song was interrupted for the
radio announcement. John Lennon was gunned down on December
8th. Who would could shoot John? Why?

I thought I might have heard Charlie Manson’s voice
crooning softly, “See, I told you, ‘No sense really does
make sense…'”

Everyone has heard. It disturbs me greatly. John Lennon
is dead. Loss. The murder of Romance. The assassination of
tea and bread and marmalade, of pure, clear maple syrup on
pancakes, of bicycle riding in the early morning hours of
summer. Youth shot down. Riddled T-shirts. Torn, stained
headbands. Loving who you want to, and laughing at the world.
Feelings warm on a cool and cloudy night over sausage pizza and
DAD’S root beer in Chicago and all of it gone, obscene, memories
bloody. No one is safe. Nothing to do about it. It is finding
out you lost your virginity to a whore. Tarnished ideals. A
fucking shame. I mourn.

Lennon’s death points out our own mortality— our own
susceptibility to a violent end. There are a lot of people
crying out about the availability of handguns, and the need for
gun control, but that is not it. John Lennon was murdered,
purposely killed by another human being. In the end it doesn’t
make any difference that he was shot as opposed to having been
stabbed with a knife, or strangled to death with a scarf, or
poisoned… The problem is not the prevalence of weapons in our
society (which will always be with us, in the form of our hands
and feet, if in no other form…), but rather the prevalence of
malevolent will. How do you control that? You can’t legislate
it away, or vote it down. You can’t even shoot or napalm it out
of existence. It has been with us since the beginning of our
time. It is a part of ourselves that we have come to accept.
Our political leaders are surrounded by Secret Service
agents and wear bullet-proof vests and hats, and deliver
speeches from behind bullet-proof screens, and are generally
inaccessible to the public. We accept this as normal. But now
that someone representative of the dream of a better world has
been taken away, we react. This was no corrupt politician, no
mercenary hypocrite… This was John Lennon. He was ours. He
was US. And it is not supposed to happen this way. The
protagonist is not supposed to get blown away! WE are not
supposed to get blown away, and certainly not in the middle of
our own story!

And so we seethe…

And still, John is dead.

And so we mourn.

It is a time for sadness, for tears. We have a right to
mourn. But when tomorrow comes will anything really change? Or
will we continue to walk in fear of ourselves?

It is ironic that I was once disappointed that I had
missed out on the 1960’s, which had always seemed like such an
exciting time to be a functioning adult… Now it seems I will
have my chance after all, living in these turbulent times…
Perhaps one day I, too, may find myself an unwilling part of
gasping headlines like WOMAN RUNS DOWN 25 ON SIDEWALK IN LAS
VEGAS, or LENNON SHOT DEAD. Religion, anybody?

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