Yoko Ono

give peace a chance

 

Yoko Ono's speech at Oxford University (Oct 2002)

My esteemed sisters and brothers: I've come here today across the Atlantic to say "Give Peace A Chance." It's time for us to come together, and say it again, and to realize, again, that War Is Over, if you want it.

We need letter writing, exchange of thoughts and information. True information gives us clarity and power, though that is precisely what is held back from us now. I will give you what I know.

Only a few weeks ago, on October 5th, there was a large Peace Rally in Central Park, and over 10 thousand people came together to protest the US policy and to say "Not In My Name." This was the first Peace Rally in N.Y. against the impending war. A surprisingly large number of people gathered that day for the Rally, despite the intense political climate in the States at this time. It delights me, and concerns me, at the same time. It is delightful that so many Americans are thinking Peace. It concerns me that this may bring another destruction on some remote island, to make a sacrificial lamb out of innocent people in an effort to urge us to go to war. That was done in the beginning of the Second World War. There's no reason to think that history will not repeat itself.

You may know that Al Gore came out with strong anti-Iraq War statements, and Ted Kennedy immediately expressed his support. The press, however, tried to discredit their statements as being made by professional politicians. Nevertheless, the effect of their statements is creating strong ripples. I hope you will pick up Al Gore's recent interviews and Op-Ed statement on the internet. He is going beyond the call of duty, possibly jeopardizing his chances for the next election, if anything.

The latest polls in the States show that although 57 % of the Americans support invasion of Iraq, if the UN and the Congress do not authorize the action, the number of Americans who would support the invasion on that basis drops to 37%. This shows that the United Nations still carries weight in the American Mind, and you, through writing to the United Nations to support their position, can too. Write to your Statesmen, write to any institution which exerts power in the decision making of war or peace. Send letters to the editors of magazines and newspapers. Write to fashion designers, for instance, and ask them to stamp Peace on his/her advertisements. Don't fight for Peace, Stand for Peace. Write, voice and appeal. With your appeal, instill the word Peace in the minds of every being in our society.

A week ago, on John Lennon's Birthday, October 9th, I inaugurated A LennonOno Grant For Peace at the United Nations. The idea of the Grant came to me in 1999 when I did two art shows, One in Jerusalem, and the other in Um El Fachem, at the same time. The Grant focuses on the issues where healing is needed. The first recipients were one Israeli artist and one Palestinian artist selected by curators of each region. The two artists were chosen to celebrate the fact that they have continued to be inspirational and creative in spite of the intense political climate we all live in. The artists shook hands in front of UN ambassadors, government officials, and fellow artists. The Secretary General, Kofi Annan congratulated me and the artists and said that the prize showed the fact that "peace is everybody's business not just an issue for governments." The two artists, Zvi Goldstein and Khalil Rabah, the curators and the organizers of the Grant: me and my friends in N.Y., went to a Soho restaurant later for drinks and meal, and hugged and celebrated each other. It was an evening of meeting of the minds, of friends, so much so, that for a moment I forgot the fact that the friends from the Middle East will be going back to the warzone the next morning. But once I thought of it, then I wasn't entirely sure whether they were returning to the warzone, or leaving us in one. Hey, stay well. Let's all stay well and survive. Promise to meet again soon. Okay?

You may say my attempt was naive that it would not even move a mouse, let alone a mountain. Well, this was my humble attempt to plant a seed. A tree can be cut down. But a seed is not so easy to destroy. It is a psychotic act to go around digging for seeds, though the most recent suggestion of "a pre-emptive strike" sounds very much like one. Let's all of us plant seeds, give water, and Imagine all the people living life in Peace. Remember, our hearts are one. Even when we are at war with each other, our hearts are always beating in unison.

During World War II, St. Petersburg was surrounded by the German Army and cut off from the other part of Russia for months. Finally, there was no food. No heat. Just the sound of the German bombings. But the people of St. Petersburg did not surrender. They were determine not to give up their city. The radio DJ try to cheer people up by playing music, talking and cracking jokes. Finally, he became lethargic as well. Nevertheless, he felt he could still do something to help people survive. He let a metronome tick live on the radio. People lay down and just listened and held on to that sound of the metronome ticking through day and night. That's how St. Petersburg managed not to fall.

During the same war but in Japan, my brother and I were stranded at a farm in the country we had been evacuated to. We were starving. One day, I saw my brother looking extremely tired and sad. It pained me to see him like that. Usually, he was an active, jolly little boy who laughed at the drop of a hat. But now, he looked as helpless and confused as the rest of us. Suddenly, a good idea came to me. I explained to my brother that we were going to think of a dream menu. "Think of the dinner you want to eat." He started slowly. "I want ice cream." "But that's a dessert. We should start with soup, of course." We created an elaborate meal in the air. My brother's face started to light up. Finally, he gave me the sweet chuckle I loved so much.

John was a war child and so was I. He was born during the bombing of Liverpool. While I was in a bomb shelter in Tokyo. In a war, which is another name for organized killing, civilians are the ones who suffer the most. Don't be misled by euphemistic expressions such as "the attack was made with surgical precision." In the wars of the twentieth century approximately 62 million civilians have perished, while nearly 43 million military personnel were killed. Soldiers came second on the death list. But then one must remember the soldiers families. How they cope with the change in their lives as a result of the loss, emotionally, physically, and financially.

We must reclaim what we are. Once we were told that we were created in the image of God. But now, we discovered that we can clone ourselves, in OUR image, by the millions, from one cell in our hair. With that kind of power, we can do almost anything. The war profiteers are strong because we allow them to confuse us and cause suspicion of each other. Divide and conquer. There policy of deception, manipulation and intimidation is working. Find peace in your heart and it will spread over the world. The effect of it is strong and immediate. Keep your quiet center, and stand for peace, instead of fighting for peace. We can do it.

Let's visualize the boat all of us are on. If this sinks like the titanic, or if we would get to the shore safely all depends on what we will do. Are we to fight the people who stand for war? Fight them and the boat will sink. Our sanity and peace is what is needed to keep the boat afloat.

In early 1981, the coroner's office gave me back John's belongings in a plain brown paper bag. Aside of being a man of peace, John was "The King of the World"...John, who had everything any man could ever want...came back to me in a brown paper bag in the end. I want you to know that. AND we were not alone. The number of people who have died by gunshot alone since John's death is ten times larger than the total number of American soldiers lost in the Vietnam War. We are indeed living in a warzone called the world. I want all of us to realize that, and so, hopefully, the healing process can begin. John would have wanted to say this to you, too.

In the end, I'd like to read my Rainbow Revelation

Bless you for your anger for it is a sign of rising energy.
Direct not to your family, waste not on your enemy.
Transform the energy to versatility and it will bring prosperity

Bless you for your sorrow for it is a sign of vulnerability
Share not with your family, direct not to yourself.
Transform the energy to sympathy and it will bring you love.

Bless you for your greed for it is a sign of great capacity.
Direct not to your family. Direct not to the world. Transform the energy to giving. Give as much as you wish to take, and you will receive satisfaction

Bless you for your jealousy for it is a sign of empathy.
Direct not to your family, direct not to your friends.
Transform the energy to admiration and what you admire will become part of your life.

Bless you for your fear. For it is a sign of wisdom. Do not hold yourself in fear. Tranform the energy to flexibility and you will be free from what you fear.

Bless you for your poverty for it is a sign of great possibility do not hold poverty in your mind. Every drop of your generosity will come back in 10 fold.
Give as though you were a king, and you will receive a king's due.

Bless you for your search of direction for it is a sign of aspiration.
Transform the energy to receptivity and the direction will come to you

Bless you for the times you see evil.
Evil is energy mishandled and it feeds on your support.
Feed not and it will self-destruct. Shed light and it will cease to be.

Bless you for the times you feel no love.
Open your heart to life anyway, and in time you will find love in you.

Bless you, bless you, bless you.
Bless you for what you are. Remember you are loved. Remember I love you.


I wish us all a beautiful future. Let us come together, create and enjoy.

Thank you.

 

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PEACE by Yoko Ono

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