Yoko Ono has the people of Iceland in her heart, so she said at the Imagine Peace press conference she attended October 9 in Reykjavik. This is the second conference of its kind and was the prelude to the lighting of the Imagine Peace Tower, which she dedicates to world peace and the honour of her late husband John Lennon, on his birthday.
“There’s so many beautiful things that are going on in Iceland,” Yoko said when asked why she choose to come here. “Iceland is almost the strongest influence to the world, not just that, when you come here you feel everything is clean and full of very resilient people.”
During her address, Yoko acknowledged the dire state of the world’s economic system and Iceland specifically. “For me, it’s amazing that I have been sent to Iceland at a time when it was most needed,” she said. Later she went on to say that, “it’s very interesting that this incredibility negative thing happening now is balanced by this incredibly positive energy which is to light the tower.”
At the conference, Yoko awarded the LennonOno Grant for Peace to two recipients. The first went to the entire country of Iceland for its work in promoting geothermal energy.
President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson accepted the award on the country’s behalf saying to Yoko, “Your message here today is truly a reminder of the achievement which this country can be proud of and, also that there are values of human existence that are profound and lasting and will survive despite the economic difficulties and the turbulence that we face now.” He then gave the award to the Iceland chapter of The Red Cross who will use the 50,000 USD to further their work in Palestine. Several young volunteers dressed in red were standing by to accept the grant and have their photos taken with the president.
The Second grant went to environmental activist and physicist Dr. Vandana Shiva to go toward her work in seed conservation and food justice. Upon receiving the award, Dr. Shiva also commented on the economic situation saying, “we are living in the middle of two meltdowns, the meltdown because of global warming and the meltdown of the financial casino. Both are caused by greed, both are caused by irresponsibility and both provide an opportunity for rebuilding.”
After the awards were given, the Icelandic post office unveiled the new postage stamp, designed by Örn Smári Gíslason, which shows the Imagine Peace Tower’s beam reaching high above the harbour with a hidden image of John Lennon’s face. The postage stamp also glows in the dark.
When asked what each person could do to promote peace, Yoko said, “be yourself. That alone is being very peaceful because deep inside us we are peaceful people.”
Dr. Vandana Shiva:
Dr. Vandana Shiva, who has been an advocate to farmers by standing up to large companies like Monsanto, a multinational agricultural biotechnology corporation and the world's leading producer of common herbicides. “Monsanto,” she said during an interview following the conference, “controls 60% of the world’s seed companies and part of what I will use this award for, is fighting Monsanto again, because they are claiming ownership of seeds that are resilient to climate change. Seeds that can deal with drought and seeds that can deal with floods.” She claimed that because large companies like Monsanto can secure patents over seeds, farmers will have severely restricted access, especially poor farmers who can’t afford the heavy cost of buying new seeds every year. “These are the same people who have the terminator seed.” She explained, “these are seeds that will be engineered to be sterile so you can never grow a crop out of it. You have to go and buy a seed from them every year. I call it a seed dictatorship. It’s a dictatorship over life.” Dr. Shiva is the author of several books including Biopiracy: The Plunder of Nature and Knowledge and Soil not Oil and she serves on the boards of several organizations including Slow Food International, World Future Council and International Forum on Globalization.