On October 9, Yoko Ono will inaugurate her latest art project, the Imagine Peace Tower in Reykjavik, Iceland, a monument dedicated to world peace and to John Lennon's memory. The piece is a wishing well that projects a tall beam of light up into the air, about twenty meters high and one meter wide. Selected passages are written on the base of the tower, including "A dream you dream together is reality" by Yoko Ono, "Imagine all the people, living life in peace" from John Lennon's song “Imagine," and the words “Imagine Peace” inscribed on the base in twenty-four languages. The ceremony takes place on what would be the former Beatle's 67th birthday. Every year the tower will be lit from October 9, Lennon's birthday, to December 8t, the date of his death, and also on New Year's Eve and other special occasions.
The construction was a collaborative effort on the part of Yoko Ono, the City of Reykjavik, Reykjavik Art Museum, and Reykjavik Energy. Ono says she chose Iceland as the location because of its eco-friendly attitude -- the tower is entirely powered by renewable energy from the Hellisheidi Geothermal Power Plant. The idea for the project came from discussions Ono had with Lennon in the Sixties, and materials from Ono's previous art exhibitions called the Wish Tree. About 500,000 of the wishes that Ono has collected as part of her traveling Wish Tree exhibit are featured as part of the Imagine Peace Tower. Each wish is put in a capsule and buried in the ground along with a tree seedling, so that the now empty grounds will one day become a forest. You can submit your own wish here.
Although some will argue that the funds used to build the project could have been better spent on a more practical cause for world peace, the Imagine Peace Tower is nonetheless a beautiful idea come to fruition. The metaphor of using light as a healing energy is familiar to many, and the monument will serve as a reminder of the potential for humans to build and work for peaceful social goals instead of violence and warfare which dominate our society today.
Ono's statements from a 2002 interview, quoted on the Imagine Peace website, relate some of her notions of the possibility for world peace, “This world is separated into two industries: one being the war industry and the other being the peace industry. People who are in the war industry are totally unified by their ideas. They want to make war, kill, and make money. There is no argument there. They just get on with their objectives. Therefore, in that sense, they are a tremendously powerful force. But the people in the peace industry are like me: they are idealists and perfectionists. So they cannot agree with each other. They're always arguing in the pursuit of the "perfect idea." They are asking themselves and each other "What is the best way to get peace? Of course, it's MY way. What's wrong with YOUR way is that..." But instead of doing that, if we can only try to accept each other, forgive the differences and appreciate each other...because the fact is that all of us are in the peace industry. We should bless each other for that, and through that togetherness, somehow, we may be able to make the peace industry just as viable as the war industry, or more. Only then will we be able to stop the wars and bring peace to the world.”
Ono's message of compassionate idealism, while perhaps inefficient in material terms, succeeds in being personally inspiring. As the idea of promoting and working toward peace in our volatile post 9-11 world is more closely discussed and contemplated, rather than merely dismissed as an ideological relic of the 1960's, more peaceful solutions to our global problems will arise. For those interested in further exploring the ideas presented by John Lennon and Yoko Ono, the Imagine Peace website has a provocative presentation about waging peace, here.
Tristan Gulliford is a writer, dreamer, and aspiring myth-keeper who makes electronic music under the name "Dreamcode". He is currently attending the University of Colorado at Boulder.