The humidity and temperature soared, but that didn’t stop hundreds of New Yorkers from giving peace another chance at the 40th anniversary of John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s famous bed-in for peace this past Sunday in Central Park.
Set up under two shady trees just steps from Strawberry Fields, a king-sized “peace bed” offered park visitors a cool place to sit with friends and family and share their concerns about nuclear proliferation and using violence as a means of settling conflicts.
Adorned with pillows, carnations and a giant mural, the bed also offered New Yorkers the opportunity to read a variety of poetry in English, Spanish and Portuguese, and sign up to endorse the World March for Peace and Nonviolence, which organized hundreds of similar events worldwide, and is launching the first- ever 93-day, seven continent peace march beginning on October 2.
Brooklyn rock band, Earthdriver recorded “We Want Peace” live and led the crowd in a series of Beatles tunes. “This is the next generation,” said a father holding an 8-month old in a onesie with a large peace symbol on it. “I’m here because we have to leave our kids a better world.”
Calling the Iraq war unconstitutional and illegal, Sgt. Matthis Chiroux of Iraq Veterans against the War spoke of his four years of active duty in Germany, Japan, Iraq and Afghanistan, before refusing to redeploy and winning an honorable discharge from the US Army.
“Nonviolence is courage and violence is cowardice,” Chiroux stated. “When we’re faced with something we’re afraid of it’s our instinct to kill it and to tear it apart. And the military trains this and brings it out of you and teaches that this is a reasonable way to deal with the problems of our nation. And it’s not, which is why when I go to bed, I recite the pledge to resist.”
Chris Wells. World March for Peace and Nonviolence spokesman in the US, spoke at length about the origins of the bed-in and its unmet goal of bringing peace to a troubled world. “40 years ago, at the height of the Vietnam War, John & Yoko had the vision to turn their honeymoon into a call for peace,” Wells stated. “They asked us to imagine a world without violence. It was a call that remains unfulfilled.”
“Today, we honor that call with a group bed-in that’s also one of the first steps in the World March for Peace and Nonviolence, an action that coincides with the urgent needs of these times,” Wells continued.
“We’re living in a highly dangerous moment. We’re all threatened by nuclear weapons. Young and old, rich and poor, all colors and faiths, all of us. And the spread of this technology is more and more out of control. There can be no peace as long as nuclear weapons exist and to avoid a future catastrophe, we must act today.”