As a society, we are driven toward balance. Take the axioms “first as tragedy, then as farce” or “illness is the doorway to health” for example. Chinese philosophy calls it yin and yang. Here in Reykjavík we are witness to one of the most magnificent natural displays of the dance between darkness and light. For every winter of of darkness is a summer of 24-hour sun. On that line of thinking, the more we hear about war and crisis, the harder we strive for peace.
This month The University of Iceland and the City of Reykjavík launch the Höfði Reykjavík Peace Centre. The centre is named after the historic Höfði House on Borgartún, where in 1986 Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev famously met and shook hands, helping to bring about the end of the Cold War. The new peace centre, to be opened at the University of Iceland, will help support Reykjavík to become a “city of peace,” and to advise on how Reykjavík can promote peace and abroad. It will be host to regular conferences, panel discussions, and act as a research and education facility for the promotion of peace.
Ambitious is an understatement, but the Centre has already shown its dedication to concrete involvement and community engagement with its opening ceremony program. Opening remarks will be made by the president of Iceland, Mr. Guðni Th. Jóhannesson, followed by addresses by key members of the University, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the mayor of Reykjavík, Dagur B. Eggertsson.
A panel discussion will be held in conjunction with the Reykjavík International Film Festival, which asks: “Can films, non-state actors and dialogue contribute to peace in the 21st century?” Panel guests include American director Darren Aronofsky, producer Kristín Ólafsdóttir, director Hrund Gunnsteinsdóttir and Daniel Shapiro, the Director of Harvard International Negotiation Program.
As Yoda once eloquently spoke it: “In a dark place we find ourselves, and a little more knowledge lights our way.” The Höfði Centre is an attempt at light. It’s an opportunity to maintain the balance, and a push for peace. Because that yin-yang symbol is more than just a lame back tattoo. And throwing V-fingers in the air is more than just a signature for Japanese tourists.
The ceremony takes place October 7 13:00-17:30 in the Ceremony Hall at the University of Iceland. Find out more about the event here.