So it has come around again. This week saw Yoko Ono-Lennon return to this fair isle to relight the Imagine Peace Tower on Viðey in the memory of her late husband John. Now before I begin my rant, I would like to state my admiration for all that John and Yoko have achieved through music and the championing of peace, love, and general hugging of trees (good luck with the last one in Iceland…). This year we even got the chance to see the weird and wonderful Lady Gaga receive a Grant For Peace, although the reasoning of “using her art to bring better communication to the world,” in Yoko Ono-Lennon’s own words, seems a little tenuous. Rachel Corrie, yes fine; Christopher Hitchens, if you wish; John Perkins, ok then; Pussy Riot, not sure what the peaceful link there is but Yoko, I am willing to put any personal judgment aside and recognise that you are a force for good in this world.
However, one thing has pissed me off for the last two winters in Iceland and it’s happening again. Why do we need a goddamn light into the sky? This is Reykjavík, a small city on a barren rock. While this has its drawbacks, one major plus is that we have very little light pollution. We can see the stars here. For someone who grew up in London, this is big deal. Better than that, there are natural green lights of epic, beautiful (and one can even argue peaceful) proportions that regularly appear in the sky. Aurora are a wonderful thing to behold, anyone who sees them for the first time are awe inspired.
The idea for a Peace Light Tower is a noble one, a beacon of being nice to each other et cetera. But why here? There is a target audience of around 300,000 overwhelmingly peaceful people who will see it. Why not somewhere like New York, London, Paris, places that have a much bigger target audience and so much light pollution that it wouldn’t matter. In light of Pussy Riot receiving an award, it would possibly be a greater political statement to raise a light in Moscow, for example. Perhaps somewhere in dire need of some peace, like much of sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle-East? There could be a Peace Light Tower Road-show, using the symbolic nature of the tower in a different place each year. Just a thought…
Yoko is doing a sterling job of championing universal love and I don’t want this rant to detract from that, but this Peace Light Tower makes me less peaceful because it gets in the way of something way cooler and I would prefer a winter without this wasteful light beaming into the heavens.