For a long time I have been an advocate for Reykjavík and all of Iceland taking more initiative when it comes to those so called matters of peace. Therefore I was honoured and pleased to be offered a chairmanship in a consultancy committee for the newly founded Centre of Peace in Reykjavík and since I know that many people wonder about these things I would like to make it clear that I do this as a volunteer and do not get paid for it.
I am one of those that firmly believes that the human race constantly improves and that more people realise that our future and progress are based less on competition and fights but more on cooperation, communication and companionship. We always have a choice of two things; violence or discussion. Violence can, for the short term, seem like a simple solution but experience shows that the consequences are often complicated and horrible.
Icelandic national culture not only processed meat and Danish hot dogs
Iceland has a unique position among nations. Our community is based on a long tradition of peace and democracy. We do not have an army. We respect human rights. International research shows that nowhere in the world is it better to be a woman. We take it as a matter of course to do things that others find unimaginable. We were the first country in Europe to vote a woman as president and we were so happy with it that we voted for her again and again. Even today no other woman in the world has been in a democratically voted office for as long as her. Gay people, bisexuals, transgender people and others live here and have some of the best legal status in the world. I could go on and on. The Icelandic community is a good community. It isn‘t perfect but we have a lot to build upon.
Peace and human rights are closely connected. Our long tradition of peace is the premise of the human rights that we live by today and find natural. The purpose of The Centre for Peace in Reykjavík is to try to understand what exactly 'peace and human rights' consists of and to try to facilitate that. Icelandic national culture is not just bound with processed meat products and Danish hot dogs as many politicians seem to think. If that were the case anyone could just eat himself to be Icelandic. But it is not that simple. The core of Icelandic national culture will not be written in pork. The core is about the values that we adopt in our daily interactions. It is about friendship, respect, trust and not least humility. What is the philosophy of being Icelandic? I dreamt the other night that a man came to me and told me that the greatest prestige an Icelander could get was to die in a volcano eruption. Is that all there is?
Money in peace
Iceland has full capability to be a leader in matters of peace and human rights worldwide and without arrogance, condescension or manipulation. That will also increase the quality of life that we live. We have a lot to build upon. Höfði is a good example. It is not just an old house made of timber in Borgartún but an icon, like the Berlin Wall, for the end of one of the most stupid wars of all time; the Cold War. Let‘s put Höfði on the throne. The Peace Column in Viðey is another example, a world class piece of art. The lighting of the Peace Column continues to get more and more attention and the number of guests increase. Let‘s make that a yearly world renowned event. And for those that do not share my humanistic hippy vision I would like to point out that there are opportunities in peace. Money and opportunity. Let‘s make Reykjavík the centre for summit meetings and conventions on peace. Let‘s enhance the understanding and awareness of peace and human rights for the good of ourselves and others.
Let‘s imagine that when people in the future hear John Lennon sing Imagine they will think of peace and charity and automatically think of Iceland. Are we not connecting here?