This piece showed in a group exhibition titled Concrete Language at Contemporary Art Gallery (Vancouver BC), September - November 2006, curated by Jenifer Papararo. The show explored ideas around visual and spatial relations in language.
Surrender To Peace
mirrors w/ reverse sandblasted text that reads
'smile at the future and the future smiles back'
2" x 24" diameter mirrors
The following is an open letter written by Yoko Ono and published on Christmas Day 1982 in the New York Times. This letter reads in line with a manifesto and marks the impetus to make this mirror work.
Surrender to Peace
John and I were part of the huge crowd of youth who grew up believing in the American idealism and its claim for human rights. We lived in societies under lingering Victorian influence while sharing the American Dream in our hearts. America was us : the navigator to the future world. John held his belief to the end.
The dream still lives. This is evident in the letters I receive from the world in sharp contrast to the prevailing pessimism here in the States. The world has witnessed American Spirit rising with remarkable resilience when it’s most needed and often when it’s least expected. No doubt it will again. My concern is how. We don’t need another martyr. We have had too many.
Compare the two last times when the American Spirit has surged to bring justice to and for the nation. One being the Vietnam Peace Movement and the other, the Watergate Incident. No blame intended to any individual and group heroes, there was much painful bloodshed connected to the Peace Movement whereas there was none with Watergate. Heroes involved there were either silent or masked, and the incongruity of it was directly responsible to the unfolding of the case. I observed this as strong evidence of our growing awareness, that emotional radicalism is power-play with emphasis on play, and peace nurtures peace as justice seeds justice. Sanity is allowing dichotomy, unity is discovering empathy, and harmony is a celebration of polarity. Our purpose is not to exert power but to express our need for unity despite the seemingly unconquerable differences. We as a human race have a history of losing our emotional equilibrium when we discover different thought patterns in others. Many wars have been fought as a result. It’s about time to recognize that it is all right to be wearing different hats as our heartbeat is always one.
I would like to purpose a Nationwide Peace Poll to vote for peace versus nuclear holocaust of any size. The poll should be clearly independent from Nuclear Disarmament and/or gun control issues for now, as many of us feel a strong need for nuclear defense while regarding gun control a non-priority cause. Combining either or both of these issues with the Peace Poll would immediately reduce the poll to a minority venture. The poll should be authorized and organized by Congress as a national undertaking for the sake of expediency alone, with the balloting through the media to minimize administrative expense. What the Peace Poll will do is to:
1) show us where we stand in terms of individual and collective commitment to World Peace and
2) inspire the rest of the world to follow.
There may come a time, sooner than we imagine, when the world would feel safe to curtail production of nuclear arms. The cost cutback alone would be a direct financial gain to every country. Already some of us are starting to feel suspicious of the old myth that war is more lucrative than peace, especially after observing that the world’s largest weapon merchant, USA has not been exempt from the world economic crisis.
One could say that because of the times, the people of the United States and their government have been given an opportunity to initiate World Peace. To take this initiative is to leave a tremendous legacy to our offspring, a legacy of our true concern for the future race and our planet. How can we ask children to be caring when we ourselves show indifference to their fate? Smile to the future and it will smile back to us.
I pray that in the end, gun control will cease to be an issue as today’s misuse of guns may be do to the world tension for fear calls fear. A day may come when we will see governments offering to buy private guns for recycling to, say, make domestic robots. A few guns would perhaps remain in museums next to the Early American Spears for example as reminders of days when we used to kill each other to put stop to our lives before our natural deaths. Would they ever understand how much sorrow was caused by this instrument and its ritual, I wonder? The true motivation for murdering one’s fellow human is and will be an eternal mystery to us.
In the beginning, there was the Word. If the Universe was initially created by a word and its air play of seven days, wouldn’t it be a comparatively modest effort on our part to work together through affirmation and reaffirmation of our unity, to ensure the survival of our already existing planet? If, as we know now, all of us are only using less than 20% of our brain, it is not an exaggeration to say that our awareness knows no boundary and a miracle is what we make of it.
The Eighties has become the most unusually beautiful, enlightened period in the history of the human race. It is as though the very tension has forced us to wake up from the long embryonic period we held on to. We are witnessing a unique society where all our feelings and thoughts have been brought out to the surface to be shared and reexamined. Not only that we have become closer to each other and wiser, but the wiser have become meeker and the meeker have become wiser, thus making us truly one world.
In the summer of ’72 in New York City, John and I invited the press to announce the founding of a conceptual country called NUTOPIA. Anybody could be a citizen of this country. Citizens were automatically the country’s ambassadors. The country’s body was the airfield of our joint thoughts. Its constitution was our love and its spirit, our dreams. Its flag was the white flag of surrender. A Surrender to Peace. We wished that one day we would take the flag to the United Nations and place it alongside the other flags because NUTOPIA was just another concept. Just as France, the United States and the Soviet Union were concepts. It was not a concept founded to threaten any other. At the time, the idea of surrender did not go down too well. A radical friend of ours expressed that he too, disliked the term. Surrender sounds like defeat, he said. Well, don’t you surrender to love, for instance? I looked at him. No, he wouldn’t, I thought. Are women the only people who know the pride and joy of surrender?, I wondered. It’s a waste of time to explain to a macho radical, didn’t I tell you?, said John, a man who surrendered to the world, life, and finally to the Universe. Anyway, don’t worry Yoko. One day we’ll put it there. You and I. I promise. I still believe we will.
It is time for you to rise. It is you who will raise the flag. I feel that John and I, as a unit, have done our share. The rest of my life belongs to our son, Sean. It is your effort. Your flag. So remember, We Are Family. You and I are Unity. In the Joy of Harmony, the World is One to Infinity. Speak out. Speak out of love and you need not fear. We will hear. America The Beautiful. Surrender to Peace. I love you.
Yoko Ono Lennon
December 25 1982
New York City.
P.S. Just now, I received a call that a friend, Jamie Lubarr, was shot to death Christmas Eve. He was walking on the streets of New York to go to a party. Two people came from behind and shot him for no apparent reason.
I’m sorry Jamie. It was too late for you, and for the approximately 24,000 sisters and brothers who were shot to death this year in the USA just with handguns alone, (FBI Unified Reported Crime Statistics, Washington DC) from January to October ’82. This breaks down to one every thirty minutes. The rising violence is a world phenomenon in varying shades of cruelty. Closing our eyes to it will not make it disappear.
I have not slept well since John died. One bedside light is always lit through the night. It is as though I have no right to sleep in the comfort of darkness. I have my moments of joy and laughter. Night is when I face myself, John, and the dreams we dreamt together. There is anger and sorrow. Still, gun for a gun is not the way. If we took that route, pretty soon, you would be hearing me say – well, thank God we’re we’re alive! That’s because my son is such a good marksman. I don’t want to live that way. Forget the moral implication for a moment. How do we sleep? There is always a better marksman somewhere.
So, I say it again. Speak out. Speak out of the wisdom of love – through love, we have the power to create Heaven on Earth as Love is heaven and heaven is love. The man said, half of what I said is meaningless, but I say it just to reach you.