Why I shared a quote about peace by a man who beat women

I shared this quote by John Lennon about peace and of course it sparked a little confrontation/debate on my Facebook wall.


Usually I do not engage with debate on Facebook – I consider it a terrible medium for the nuances of any kind of disagreement.  

Also life really is too short for what is, in almost every case, an exercise in futility and a sure way to lose friends.  Usually, if a debate starts on my wall I stay out of it, often removing the original post to stop other people wading in or asking that we agree to disagree.

Becuz, ppl: you can disagree with folks and still be friends. It’s OK. 

But it was late and I had a weak moment so I made a few remarks and left the comments up.   The next morning some of my friends had joined in with their mix of lovely wisdom and I came up with this. 

My sharing a quote by a man who beat his wife was probably seen as condoning violence against women, it wasn’t.  I don’t. 

I have family experience (not mine to share) of this issue, so I don’t excuse or support it.  Let me make that clear. 

 It would be impossible, in this deeply flawed world we inhabit, for me to only share work and words from people who were unimpeachable in all their doings, or to background check everyone who inspires me to decide if they are worthy. 

In any case: I see art as separate from the artist. 

 I think we have to. 

For me, art comes from the universally perfect source inside all of us imperfect beings. It’s where all the darkness we are and experience distils back into something pure.

Many of our artists did not behave as good people. This is often because art comes from difficult struggles and damaged souls. We can love the art anyway.  

In some cases, the ‘bad thing they did’ is more well known than the art – for instance I’d find it hard to listen to a Rolf Harris song again (why, Rolf, WHY??).   

Again, life’s not simple and we don’t often get clear cut rules about this stuff.   It comes down to how you, personally, engage with somebody’s art. 

So for this person, Lennon’s words were drowned out by his actions.  I get that.   For me, knowing he behaved badly (not just to women) hasn’t overshadowed his work.  I can still see the light.  

I also feel, in my heart, that his later work came from a genuine place of overcoming his flaws.

I am a rare ‘Yoko camp’ person.  She’s a fascinating character and great artist, and I think he found himself with her.  Being with her changed him, you could hear it in the music. 

The person posting saw Lennon as a hypocrite, because he spoke about peace but had been violent himself. 

Thing is, if we only let people who had never been violent onto the floor to speak about peace, that floor would be empty a lot of the time. 

It seems to me that the best pacifists are those who have an ongoing battle with violence inside themselves. From what I know of John Lennon, he was such a person.  

I believe that beauty can come out of ugliness, that we all have done things to hurt others but that we are no less worthy of speaking truth and making art because of it. 

I believe in redemption – not through adhering to some dogma, but redemption through art, truth and beauty.

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