(Imagine) The Most Elusive Gift of All


This is the 26th in a collection of newspaper ads written by Harry Gray, then CEO of United Technologies, that appeared in the Wall Street Journal from the late 1970s through the early 1980s. Here is the text from that ad.

If you asked most sane and temperate men and women throughout the world what they wanted most for the holidays, their first choice wouldn’t come in a magnificent box with a fancy ribbon.
They couldn’t find it on a colorful page of a fat Christmas catalog.
They wouldn’t see it glistening out at them from a window of a smart boutique.
Because it’s the most precious and elusive gift of all…
peace on earth.

My guess is that this ad originally appeared around the Christmas holidays, and so I wasn’t sure if I should save this ad until it got closer to the holidays. But then I realized that today is the day that the United Nations has declared International Day of Peace, so the ad fits in quite well with such a day.

Seeing the phrase “fat Christmas catalog” certainly brings back happy memories of the Sears wish book that I would spend hours paging through and secretly hoping I would get everything I wished for in the catalog.

But when you get to the end of the ad, it’s kind of sad to realize that 30 years after this ad first appeared we still have not been able to get the one thing that everyone wants – peace on earth.

I’m certainly not qualified to say whether there’s more or less peace on earth today compared to 30 years ago, but I can say with certainly that we do not have peace on earth.

I’ve often thought that the root cause of civil unrest around the world is economic in nature. If everyone made at least the equivalent of a middle class income all over the world, I think there would be far fewer, if any, uprisings, and the world would be a much more peaceful place.

While that may be simplifying things, it would be interesting to see what would happen if such a scenario were possible.

As I was writing this post, the words to Imagine by John Lennon came to mind

Imagine all the people
Living life in peace… 

so I thought I’d go back and read the lyrics to the entire song, to see if perhaps John Lennon could add any insights to this quest for peace. I’ve copied the full set of lyrics below.

Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today…

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace…

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

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 may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one

I’m not an expert at interpreting what these lyrics mean, but it seems as if Lennon may be suggesting that if we were willing to give up the ideas of countries, religions, and possessions we could have a world filled with peace, love, and abundance.

If that’s the case, I think I’d be willing to give up those ideas in a heartbeat.

Happy International Day of Peace.

2 thoughts on “(Imagine) The Most Elusive Gift of All

  1. Thanks so much for this blog. With the miracle of the internet, I was able to find #12 on your list as I’m preparing a Christmas note to friends. I’ll never forget the “peace on earth” message as its counterpoint to the materialism of the season. Now I have all 75 of them to review and reconnect with Mr. Gray.


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