|Yoko imagines peace on
by Ritchie Yorke
October 11, 2007
As the world's most active volcanic region, Iceland has seen more than its share of bright flashes and fireworks in the sky.
Not forgetting the awesome illuminations regularly produced by the celebrated Northern Lights celestial show high in the skies.
But this enlightened country has never seen anything to rival the brilliant plume of light which penetrated the Arctic darkness on the night of what would have been the late John Lennon's 67th birthday, October 9.
In the presence of 200 dignitaries including Yoko Ono, Sean Lennon (who shares his father's birthday), Ringo Starr, the late George Harrison's widow Olivia, an eminent associate of the Dalai Lama along with civic leaders of the city of Reykjavik, the Imagine Peace Tower was turned on for the first time.
It represents a beacon to world peace in an increasingly troubled world. A world in which oil has become not only a prominent generator of global warming but also an alleged cause for modern warfare, including the war in Iraq.
The plume of light, which radiates up to 30 metres into the sky from the island of Videy in the Reykjavik harbour, will remain lit from October 9, Lennon's birthday through December 8, the date of his death each year, and on special occasions.
Videy occupies a historical place in Icelandic history, being the location of the nation's first stone building and the site of its first church and a monastery.
"I have chosen Iceland for the Imagine Peace Tower because it is a unique eco-friendly country," Yoko Ono, 73, commented at a special conference.
"Eighty per cent of Iceland's energy is provided by water, not oil. Because of this, the air, earth and water are surprisingly pure and clean.
"Every time I visit that place, it makes me feel 10 years younger.
"Geo-thermal energy has made Iceland independent, and I think that Iceland is now more independent than any other country.
"There's a lot of caring and concern on a very high sensitivity level in this country Iceland. So no wonder I wanted to do the Peace Tower here.
"Actually this is an answered prayer for me because during my first time at John's house in England (in 1966), he talked about building a lighthouse in his garden. But I never knew how to conceptualise that. I never believed this could be reality."
Admitting that three years ago she never thought that the dream would become a reality, Yoko noted: "The timing for this could not be more appropriate. I hope the Imagine Peace Tower will give encouragement, inspiration and a sense of solidarity in a world now filled with fear and confusion. We all now live in the darkness and confusion of a polluted world."
The Tower consists of six searchlights with mirrors which act as prisms, reflecting the column of light upwards from a l0-metre wide wishing well adorned with the message Imagine Peace in 24 languages.
The power for the lights is provided by Iceland's unique geo-thermal energy grid, which was a key reason that Yoko decided to create her work of art in this country located at the top of the world on the edge of the Arctic Circle.
Iceland is a world leader in sourcing clean energy through natural means and is presently trialling a revolutionary new method of transforming carbon dioxide, the major cause of global warming, by injecting it into underground lava. By storing the greenhouse gas in basaltic bedrock, it literally turns to stone over time. A four-year trial was launched in Iceland last month. Conservation experts around the world will be closely monitoring the results.
Yoko Ono appeared at a press conference at Reykjavik Energy headquarters the morning after what would have been her late husband's birthday to confirm her support for this new technology which she believes provides a positive light on the planet's environmental future.
Scientists in Iceland, France and the US believe that they can provide a method of transition from energy pollution sources such as coal to achieving an environmentally clean future for the next generation.
Yoko claimed the Imagine Peace Tower could not have been created without the benefit of alternative energy sources such as Iceland has provided.
Forty years ago in 1967, John Lennon predicted that the conceptual light tower envisioned by Yoko Ono in 1965, would one day become a reality.
"I see the Imagine Peace Tower inauguration as the biggest concert I'm ever going to be doing in my life," she confided in an exclusive interview.
"I consider myself very fortunate to see the dream my husband and I dreamt together become reality."
The Imagine Peace Tower is an ongoing initiative in the Lennon's War Is Over If You Want It peace campaign, launched for the 1969 Christmas season in several major cities including London, New York and Toronto.
Supporters of the peace movement have been invited to send in their messages of support and prayers which will be stored in a series of capsules at the foot of the Imagine Peace Tower. So far more than 500,000 messages have been received.
Tuned-in people around the world are invited to send their messages to the Imagine Peace Tower, PO Box 1009, 121 Reykjavik, Iceland. Alternatively they can be forwarded by email to the website http://www.imaginepeace.com/.
The construction and maintenance of the Tower will underwritten by Yoko Ono, the City of Reykjavik, Reykjavik Art Museum and Reykjavik Energy.
To a suggestion that Yoko appeared to be maintaining the role that she and John Lennon had adopted in the late '60s in their controversial efforts to bring an end to violence and injustice, she simply responded: "I know that there are many similarities between what was going on then with the Vietnam War and Biafra starvation, and what is going on now in Iraq and Darfur.
"That cannot be denied. But I'm just doing what I can do.
"Some of the things I don't know what I'm doing, I just fall into it.
"It's like a pre-ordained spiritual thing."
* Writer Ritchie Yorke was the international peace envoy for John and Yoko Lennon's War Is Over If You Want It global peace campaign in l968-70. He attended the inauguration of the Imagine Peace Tower as a personal guest of Yoko Ono.
© 2007 by the Age Company Ltd., all rights reserved.