In Bed For Peace 2009 – my personal odyssey into the heart of peace, freedom and doona covers
In March 1969, John Lennon and Yoko Ono conducted the world’s first bed-in for peace. On the 40th anniversary of this event, I took to my bed for the same reasons.
Unfortunately, nothing much in the world has changed. In fact, there is a lot more to be disappointed about when it comes to world peace. Indeed, if John Lennon were still alive, he might well be in a righteous rage because of all the trouble in the world today. But let’s not dwell on these matters. I’m not politically motivated nor do I have any great knowledge of the peace processes carried out around the world today. I am all for peace, though and spending the day in bed is a small price to pay to help the cause.
But where did this start? A close friend of mine decided, after the tragedy of September 11, 2001, to mimic Lennon’s form of protest as a way of raising awareness for world peace. He determined he could also raise money for charity as well. Since then, with little fanfare, he has continued to practice this passive protest measure every year on the anniversary of the original bed-in.
Awareness of this event, in a modern landscape of badges, ribbons, bracelets and even moustache growing for various charities, has been pretty minimal. In fact, apart from a few mentions in local newspapers and on the back page of a national daily, the event does not have much of a profile. However, it should.
For the first time this year, he asked friends to think about spending the day in bed as well. Being in bed is one of my favourite places so the sacrifice I had to make, as you can imagine, was quite severe. Coupled with the unconditional support of my wife, the day was going to be one of extreme relaxation. What better acclamation to peace could there possibly be?
So, with very little in mind as to what I might do lying in bed for 24 hours, apart from the very puerile obvious, I awoke today and realised I didn’t have to do anything apart from lie about in bed. Dammit, this was going to be tough but then, someone has to do the tough chores in order to get the message out (or at very least, derive some personal pleasure from the idea their little bit might make a little bit of difference).
After the first few slothful hours, something unexpected happened; I felt vaguely guilty. I felt like I should be helping my wife with the weekend chores. Given she is going away for work for eight days tomorrow, I also felt a little guilty that I was going to spend today lying about, when I could be spending time with her. I felt further guilt I wasn’t going to be able to go to the gym today (I am currently following a fairly rigorous training schedule). However, my wife assured me she was happy to be my support crew for the day and I realised the gym would be there tomorrow.
I turned my attention back to the reason I was in bed to start with: peace. I got thinking about the troubles around the world today. I am visual when I think about things. I rather imagine I’m a satellite looking down from the sky. I can see these troubled areas from space. I imagine these areas to be somewhat like tumors on the landscape of the planet. But unlike tumors, we can’t excise these; they need to heal themselves.
There are many reasons why the world is suffering at the moment. The current world economic crisis, the various ugly skirmishes, border wars, incursions and atrocities happening around the world all came to mind. With these events in mind, the potential to slip into a melancholic stupor was quite tempting. But my thoughts wouldn’t allow slumber.
I thought about the activists who have given their lives for the peace process, those brave nameless folk who put everything they have on the line in order to make the lives of those around them better.
I thought about all the servicemen and women who have died giving their lives to their various countries in the name of peace. I thought about the fact that there are really no winners in war, just better equipped armies capable of more destruction.
I thought about the fact that both sides suffer losses and the real losers are the families of loved ones killed in battle, regardless of what side they are on. I thought about all the children made homeless and orphans, about the decimation of wildlife environments, the wanton destruction of landscapes and the incredible waste of resources that war brings about.
I thought about all this so much, I felt a little sad. So I picked up my guitar and played some favourite old songs. These included ‘Khe Sahn’ by Cold Chisel, ‘Sounds Of Then’ by Gangajang and ‘US Forces’ by Midnight Oil. I amazed myself yet again by how many of the words I still knew, as if engraved into the part of my memory that stores song lyrics. Songs of peace; cries of freedom; paeans to liberty. Our cultural history is rich with such yet we still don’t know how to achieve it.
So we struggle on. Some of us actively seek out and do the hard jobs to help the peace process but for most of us, there isn’t much we can do apart from put our hands in our pockets when we can. And what better place to do it from than from the comfort of your own bed?