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Power to the People


Power to the People

Thea Paneth

Today John Lennon would be 75 and the radio played his song Power to the People. Earlier this week a couple thousand people made a peace sign in New York's Central Park in response to Yoko Ono's call to honor John's birthday in this way.


If the people ever get their political power back, then maybe John Lennon's song Imagine will become relevant.

Imagine there are no countries;
It isn't hard to do;
there is nothing to kill or die for;
And no religion too.


Power to the people, NOT power to the politicians and billionaires.


I like this one - I'll never forget being able to hear Patti singing this at the anti-IMF/WB protests in DC on April 16, 2000...

I was dreamin’ in my dreamin’
Of an aspect bright and fair
And my sleepin’ it was broken
But my dream it lingered near

In the form of shinin’ valleys
Where the pure air recognized
And my senses newly opened
And I awakened to the cry

And the people have the power
To redeem the work of fools
On the meek the graces shower
It’s decreed the people rule

People have the power
People have the power
People have the power
People have the power

Believe it!

Where there were deserts, I saw fountains
And like cream the waters rise
And we strolled there together
With none to laugh or criticize

There is no leopard and the lamb
And lay together truly bound
Well I was hopin’ in my hopin’
To recall what I had found

I was dreamin’ in my dreamin’
God knows a pure view
As I surrender into my sleepin’
And I commit my dream with you

Come on!

People have the power to dream!
People have the power to vote!
People have the power to strike!
People have the power to love!

The power to dream, to rule
To wrestle the world from fools
It’s decreed the people rule
Let’s decree the people rule

Listen, I believe everythin’ we dream
Can come to pass through our union
We can turn the world around
We can turn the earth’s revolution
  • Patti Smith

(She also sung this song at the Vatican at the Pope's request last December - really!)


Nice, but it was a very different country before Reagan. Think about it: If we actually had a revolution, who would fight whom? What the rich are now doing to the middle class is what the middle class already did to the poor. The proverbial masses have been divided and conquered. Stop and think about the inevitable consequences of a quietly growing chunk of the population that no longer has anything to hope for, anything left to lose, any consequences to fear.


Which people? This generation is profoundly divided and subdivided by class and race. Trust me, not everyone waves the banner for middle class elitism. This generation's "war on the poor" has taken a very heavy toll.

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world...


You know, there is another song, that really hits the mark... I put it in my senior year book as my favorite song... 1975.... Sounds of Silence.

The Sound of Silence

By Paul Simon

Hello darkness my old friend
I've come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence

In restless dreams I walked alone
Narrow streets of cobblestone
'Neath the halo of a street lamp
I turned my collar to the cold and damp
When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light
That split the night
And touched the sound of silence

And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never share
And no one dare
Disturb the sound of silence

"Fools" said I "You do not know
Silence like a cancer grow
Hear my words that I might teach you
Take my arms that I might reach you"
But my words like silent raindrops fell
And echoed
In the wells of silence

And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon god they made
And the sign flashed out its warning
In the words that it was forming
And the sign said "The words of the prophets are written on subway walls
And tenement halls
And whisper'd in the sounds of silence


Thea,and everyone,
As people all should see, the bad guys are more aggressive and the stakes are higher than 20 years ago. Songs won't do it. Tens of thousands of people won't do it. Protests in any numbers will not do it. Whatever people are doing, it's not enough in this brave new world. People need to make a greater commitment, serious commitment, not afternoon protests. This means promoting legislation, boycotts, strikes, civil resistance (disobedience), filing lawsuits, taking public office.