• More Than Just Words

    For evil to triumph, it only needs that the good do nothing.

    If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem.

    If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything.

    The question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. The nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.

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Happy Xmas (War Is Over)

In 1969 and 70 John Lennon and Yoko Ono spread a specific message of peace around the world. American combat troops had been fighting in Vietnam since 1965, and around 45,000 Americans had already been killed by the end of 1969. Almost half a million US men and women were deployed in the conflict, and opposition to the war was growing as demonstrated by The Peace Moratorium, which was at that time the largest demonstration in US history with an estimated two million people involved.

Against that backdrop John and Yoko rented billboards in eleven major cities around the world and put up posters that read: “WAR IS OVER! (If You Want It) Happy Christmas from John and Yoko”.

“Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” is a song written by John Lennon and Yoko Ono and released in 1971 as a single by John & Yoko/Plastic Ono Band with the Harlem Community Choir. John explained that what he and Yoko wanted to see was for people all over the world to come together on wanting peace. They wanted to see people talking about peace, working for peace, praying for peace, thinking about peace, publicising peace, doing whatever came to mind for the cause of peace.

They wanted people to get into the idea of “War Is Over” and to state it, believe it, shout it, display it. The idea was that if enough people believe that war is over then we will have a peaceful world. (Those reading this who think the idea is nonsense should bring their perception of what is possible using intention up to date with the scientific findings of The Intention Experiment, the first worldwide double-blind experiments on the effects of focused intent).

In the following video from Yoko Ono’s Imagine Peace, John explains his reasoning behind the action.

John Lennon is arguably the most famous peace activist of our time, and the War is Over – If You Want It campaign was a product of his vision and dedication to the cause. If he were alive today you can guarantee that he would be making himself heard and promoting a message of peace. Those who didn’t want peace got rid of John, but his legacy is still with us.

On the Imagine Peace website is the War is Over – If You Want It image in a variety of freely downloadable formats.  Download it print out and display in in your windows, at school, at work, and in your car window. Use it as your avatar or profile picture, send it as a greetings card.

Of all the songs regurgitated over the period, too often this one is conspicuous by its absence. Given its antiwar message and the fact that there has been a war going on fairly continuously since WWII, it’s little wonder that media controllers don’t encourage its being aired. Personally, I’d like to hear the song more often than I do, especially over the coming weeks. In fact, I’d like to see it reach number one in the charts this Christmas.

Hands up who wants peace! Me too, and I can’t think of a better way around this time of year than breathing life into John’s vision. His message was that it’s up to us, we have the power to end war. A message that needs to be heard again.

Download the image, share it, print it out. Again, I can’t think of a card more fitting or cool this Yule. Send in requests to the radio,  download the song.

Many of you will remember the successful move made by Facebook users last year to scupper the plans of the producers of the TV show X-Factor by displacing their contrived hit song with the more sincere Rage Against the Machine song.  The action restored my faith in people and the potential of social networks.

LETS”S DO IT AGAIN!

The easiest way I can think of is just do it yourself, and share the idea with your friends and people. There is a Facebook group with the theme of Make Happy Xmas War is Over (If You Want It) Christmas No.1, but I would question the need. We can act as a group without being ‘part of a group’. I say this suspecting that the men behind the curtain aren’t going to sit by idly while their tool is once more used as a rallying point, and even less so if that message is, like John and Yoko’s, one of love and peace.

Download the image, share it, print it out, put it in your windows at home and in your vehicle; use it as your avatar or profile picture for the season, send it as a greetings card, send in daily requests to the radio, download the song.

In John’s own words, ‘We can get it together. Get it?! Together!’

Peace.

 

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Peace Activist Brian Haw 7/1/49 – 18/6/11 RIP

LONDON, June 19 (Reuters) – British peace campaigner Brian Haw, who lived and slept outside the Houses of Parliament in London for a decade to protest against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, has died of cancer, his family said on Sunday. He was 62.

Haw first pitched his tent on a patch of grass over the road from Big Ben and Westminster Abbey in 2001 and became a familiar sight to millions of Londoners and tourists.

His family said in a statement that Haw died on Saturday morning in Germany, where he was being treated for lung cancer.

“He left us in his sleep and in no pain, after a long, hard fight,” it said.

The former carpenter, who had seven children, began his protest in response to Western sanctions against Iraq. He continued to camp out after the U.S.-led invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, in which British forces participated.

With his weathered fishing hat covered in peace badges and anti-war banners, Haw became a well-known symbol of opposition to British and U.S. foreign policy.

He and other campers who joined the protest faced repeated legal attempts by the authorities to force them to leave Parliament Square.

Police raided the camp in 2006, removing placards showing graphic images of dead and mutilated children. Haw told Reuters at the time that he was being persecuted for his opposition to the then prime minister Tony Blair’s government.

“This is Mr. Blair’s Britain,” he said in an interview. “You dare to speak, you dare to say it too real, too powerfully, to get through to people, and they smash it all down.”

Mark Wallinger: State Britain. Photo:Tate 2008

Artist Mark Wallinger won the 2007 Turner Prize, one of Britain’s most coveted art awards, for a replica of Haw’s anti-war protest. He recreated the peace banners, flags and plastic shelters inside London’s Tate Britain art gallery for the work, called State Britain.

The Stop the War Coalition, an anti-war group, said Haw was a “thorn in the side of the establishment”.

“Brian’s courage and persistence was an inspiration to peace campaigners across the world, and his highly visible encampment became a focus for visitors to London,” it said.

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Brian Haw at the Downing Street Demo against the Fallujah Massacre, Sun 11/04/04

Brian Haw on Friday 7th May – shortly before his arrest. Vigil Day 1,072.

Tony Blair apologises to Brian for the attack on Iraq!

Mark Thomas drops by to show his support.

Brian Haw lectures the Mass

Brian arriving at the court

Brian Haw