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The first time I heard John Lennon’s song “Imagine,” I scoffed, spit, and pronounced it “Ono Pap.” Just a dream like one of those things we had for Martin and Bobby, both dead, just frankly, irreversibly dead. Dead, dead, dead.

Who cares about impossible dreams? Someone will plant a bullet in them. Bulleted, slashed, sliced, dashed, nuked: this dream too will die.

Jim Brown’s dream is sort of like Lennon’s dream: a bunch of crap on fleeting review. Lennon penned a song asking people to think about a world without countries.

Jim Brown, the NFL Hall of Famer, and the greatest (there is no “arguably” about it) NFL running back ever, believes high-profile black athletes like Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods could, by stepping up and speaking, help prevent black-on-black crime, teenagers from carrying guns, and mothers from mourning sons.

Maybe it was because I got older or because I traveled to a few countries outside the United States, but I kind of got a sort of signal in my brain from Lennon’s Imagine poetry.

Why can I be driving or boating in Minnesota and then suddenly be in Canada? How come one of the wisest, greatest men I ever met was a Mexican tourist hustler?

How come the lines on a map mean so much but we can’t even see them when we walk, drive or fly over a border? What is a border except just a line on a map?

Imagine if Michael Jordan, the former Chicago Bulls star, went to the worst corner in Chicago and said “Stop it. Guns aren’t cool. They’ll kill your brother, your sister, your cousin, and ultimately your mother.”

Would it make a difference? We still have countries and lines on a map which, for some reason, make us fight each other.

But, on the other shoe, if you can show up to film a commercial for Nike, Buick, or ESPN, can’t you go with a ton of body guards, a film crew, and speak a few words to try to stop killing in Chicago?

More people were murdered in Chicago last year than American soldiers killed in Iraq.

Yep, the war of whatever men war over was worse in one American city than in a foreign country designated as a U.S. war zone.

Could or should Tiger Woods speak about the war zones on the city streets of America?

Brown told HBO Sports he believes Woods has a “terrible” record when it comes to social activism.

Woods responded by noting how many children his foundation has helped, not only in the United States, but in his mom’s Thailand homeland.

“And you know, I want to do it right and not just do it, but do it right,” Woods said.

Many people give Jordan and Woods a pass, saying just because a man is a superstar and makes hundreds of millions of dollars does not obligate him to advocate for, let alone become personally involved in, social issues like the killing fields of Chicago or L.A.

Great wealth and athletic celebrity doesn’t obligate one to make any difference in the worl.

Martin Luther King never did a Nike or Buick commercial I know of. He never hoisted an athletic trophy displayed on TV or in a commercial.

He was just a preacher; just a man who had a dream of evaluating people not by skin color or money earned but by the mere content of their character.

Jordan and Woods are just athletes. The argument they could be great men, rather than men who merely raise a trophy or shrug on a jacket, imbibes them with a content of character they may not possess. 

Jordan and Woods should not be criticized for refusing to recognize King’s content of character or Lennon’s no countries philosophy. Jordan and Woods are athletes who have earned great riches because they believe the greatest conquest is putting that ball into that hole.

If you had a choice of making a $100 million for putting a ball into a hole as opposed to standing against prejudice, or speaking on the killing fields of some American inner-city corner, or facing explosive devices in Iraq or Afghanistan, you’d take the millions for putting the ball in the hole and being touted by millions of journalists for doing so.

You lose your life in pursuits like those pursued by Martin and Bobby; and by those soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan; and, come to think of it, by outspoken poetic revolutionaries like John Lennon.

Jordan and Woods only have to put their lives between the lines, not on the line.

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