john lennon, yoko ono, gloria emerson, give peace a chance

John Lennon and Gloria Emerson.

John Lennon of the Beatles was a uniquely gifted musician, writer, actor, visual artist and performer whose talents made him one of the most beloved people on the planet. However, his unique approach to activism in the ’60s and ’70s was mocked in its time but today seems just as visionary as his other talents.

Lennon’s first big political statement was the 1968 hit “Revolution,” which challenged those who want to “change the world” through institutions to “free your mind instead.” In 1969, he created one of the most enduring anti-war anthems, with “Give Peace a Chance.”

The easy-to-sing chorus was designed to be chanted by large groups of people and was a major refrain in the massive Vietnam Moratorium march in Washington in the fall of 1969.

As a member of the most popular pop group of all time, Lennon knew the power of the media and how to craft messages that caught the world’s attention.



After Lennon wed artist Yoko Ono on March 20, 1969, the couple knew it would be a major media event. So they decided to take the attention and use it as an advertisement for peace by staging a two-week-long bed-in at the Hilton Hotel in Amsterdam and the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal.

The couple invited the international press into their hotel beds, and many thought there would be something salacious happening, only to find Lennon and Ono making the case for peace.

Seven months later, the couple was challenged for their anti-war activities by celebrated war correspondent Gloria Emerson, who had just returned from the frontlines in Vietnam. Emerson, a serious journalist who saw the bloodshed firsthand, thought that Yoko and Lennon’s activism was silly self-promotion.

The exchange between the three is engaging because they all want peace but have zero agreement on how it can be accomplished.

John Lennon interviewed by Gloria Emerson

"You've made yourself ridiculous!" Emerson insists.

"I don't care," Lennon replied, "if it saves lives."

"My dear boy," she said, "you're living in a nether-nether land. . . . You don't think you've saved a single life!" Emerson says.

"You tell me what they were singing at the Moratorium," Lennon shot back.

"Which one?" Emerson asks.

"The recent big one," Lennon explained. "They were singing ‘Give Peace a Chance’ … and it was written specifically for them."

"So they sang one of your songs," she said with some irritation. "Is that all you can say?"

"They were singing a happy-go-lucky song, which happens to be one I wrote. I'm glad they sang it. And when I get there, I'll sing it with them," Lennon responds.

Throughout the back and forth Lennon calls Emerson a "snob" and she responds by calling him a "fake." Lennon tries to explain that he's doing an "advertisement campaign for peace." To which she cleverly responds, "Are you advertising John Lennon or peace?"

The argument is a wonderful example of a bygone era when celebrities were challenged by reporters. In 1969, Lennon was one of the most well-known and beloved people on planet Earth and Emerson has no problem challenging him. Can you imagine a reporter confronting someone of that status on the topic of activism in 2021?

The exchange is also refreshing because Lennon has no qualms about protecting his public image. He doesn’t care if he’s seen as a clown as long as he makes his point to as many people as possible. It's a lot different than the type of celebrity "slacktivism" we see today where all they do is send out a tweet or reply to a hashtag.

There’s no real way to quantify whether Lennon’s songs and activism helped change the tide of the war, but there’s no argument over whether he was successful at presenting his message of peace to the world.

In the interview, Emerson accuses Lennon of being a half-hearted activist who lacks commitment but, in the coming years, the former Beatle and Ono would continue to engage in anti-war activism.

The couple’s political activism would cool off by the mid-’70s after being threatened by the Nixon administration with deportation.

John Lennon was murdered in New York City on December 8, 1980, 41 years ago to the day this article was written.

Leah Menzies/TikTok

Leah Menzies had no idea her deceased mother was her boyfriend's kindergarten teacher.

When you start dating the love of your life, you want to share it with the people closest to you. Sadly, 18-year-old Leah Menzies couldn't do that. Her mother died when she was 7, so she would never have the chance to meet the young woman's boyfriend, Thomas McLeodd. But by a twist of fate, it turns out Thomas had already met Leah's mom when he was just 3 years old. Leah's mom was Thomas' kindergarten teacher.

The couple, who have been dating for seven months, made this realization during a visit to McCleodd's house. When Menzies went to meet his family for the first time, his mom (in true mom fashion) insisted on showing her a picture of him making a goofy face. When they brought out the picture, McLeodd recognized the face of his teacher as that of his girlfriend's mother.

Menzies posted about the realization moment on TikTok. "Me thinking my mum (who died when I was 7) will never meet my future boyfriend," she wrote on the video. The video shows her and McLeodd together, then flashes to the kindergarten class picture.

“He opens this album and then suddenly, he’s like, ‘Oh my God. Oh my God — over and over again,” Menzies told TODAY. “I couldn’t figure out why he was being so dramatic.”

Obviously, Menzies is taking great comfort in knowing that even though her mother is no longer here, they can still maintain a connection. I know how important it was for me to have my mom accept my partner, and there would definitely be something missing if she wasn't here to share in my joy. It's also really incredible to know that Menzies' mother had a hand in making McLeodd the person he is today, even if it was only a small part.

@speccylee

Found out through this photo in his photo album. A moment straight out of a movie 🥲

♬ iris - 🫶

“It’s incredible that that she knew him," Menzies said. "What gets me is that she was standing with my future boyfriend and she had no idea.”

Since he was only 3, McLeodd has no actual memory of Menzies' mother. But his own mother remembers her as “kind and really gentle.”

The TikTok has understandably gone viral and the comments are so sweet and positive.

"No the chills I got omggg."

"This is the cutest thing I have watched."

"It’s as if she remembered some significance about him and sent him to you. Love fate 😍✨"

In the caption of the video, she said that discovering the connection between her boyfriend and her mom was "straight out of a movie." And if you're into romantic comedies, you're definitely nodding along right now.

Menzies and McLeodd made a follow-up TikTok to address everyone's positive response to their initial video and it's just as sweet. The young couple sits together and addresses some of the questions they noticed pop up. People were confused that they kept saying McLeodd was in kindergarten but only 3 years old when he was in Menzies' mother's class. The couple is Australian and Menzies explained that it's the equivalent of American preschool.

They also clarified that although they went to high school together and kind of knew of the other's existence, they didn't really get to know each other until they started dating seven months ago. So no, they truly had no idea that her mother was his teacher. Menzies revealed that she "didn't actually know that my mum taught at kindergarten."

"I just knew she was a teacher," she explained.

She made him act out his reaction to seeing the photo, saying he was "speechless," and when she looked at the photo she started crying. McLeodd recognized her mother because of the pictures Menzies keeps in her room. Cue the "awws," because this is so cute, I'm kvelling.

Photo by Heather Mount on Unsplash

Actions speak far louder than words.

It never fails. After a tragic mass shooting, social media is filled with posts offering thoughts and prayers. Politicians give long-winded speeches on the chamber floor or at press conferences asking Americans to do the thing they’ve been repeatedly trained to do after tragedy: offer heartfelt thoughts and prayers. When no real solution or plan of action is put forth to stop these senseless incidents from occurring so frequently in a country that considers itself a world leader, one has to wonder when we will be honest with ourselves about that very intangible automatic phrase.

Comedian Anthony Jeselnik brilliantly summed up what "thoughts and prayers" truly mean. In a 1.5-minute clip, Jeselnik talks about victims' priorities being that of survival and not wondering if they’re trending at that moment. The crowd laughs as he mimics the actions of well-meaning social media users offering thoughts and prayers after another mass shooting. He goes on to explain how the act of performatively offering thoughts and prayers to victims and their families really pulls the focus onto the author of the social media post and away from the event. In the short clip he expertly expresses how being performative on social media doesn’t typically equate to action that will help victims or enact long-term change.

Of course, this isn’t to say that thoughts and prayers aren’t welcomed or shouldn’t be shared. According to Rabbi Jack Moline "prayer without action is just noise." In a world where mass shootings are so common that a video clip from 2015 is still relevant, it's clear that more than thoughts and prayers are needed. It's important to examine what you’re doing outside of offering thoughts and prayers on social media. In another several years, hopefully this video clip won’t be as relevant, but at this rate it’s hard to see it any differently.

Moricz was banned from speaking up about LGBTQ topics. He found a brilliant workaround.

Senior class president Zander Moricz was given a fair warning: If he used his graduation speech to criticize the “Don’t Say Gay” law, then his microphone would be shut off immediately.

Moricz had been receiving a lot of attention for his LGBTQ activism prior to the ceremony. Moricz, an openly gay student at Pine View School for the Gifted in Florida, also organized student walkouts in protest and is the youngest public plaintiff in the state suing over the law formally known as the Parental Rights in Education law, which prohibits the discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in grades K-3.

Though well beyond third grade, Moricz nevertheless was also banned from speaking up about the law, gender or sexuality. The 18-year-old tweeted, “I am the first openly-gay Class President in my school’s history–this censorship seems to show that they want me to be the last.”

However, during his speech, Moricz still delivered a powerful message about identity. Even if he did have to use a clever metaphor to do it.

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