Yoko Ono Lennon campaigns for fight against childhood hunger

SHARE Yoko Ono Lennon campaigns for fight against childhood hunger
SHARE Yoko Ono Lennon campaigns for fight against childhood hunger

Yoko Ono Lennon, veteran artist, musician, social and political activist and widow of the Beatles icon John Lennon called earlier this week to talk about a cause very close to her heart — international hunger.

Lennon has teamed up with the “Imagine There’s No Hunger” international campaign to combat childhood hunger and poverty through sustainable agricultural education and nutrition programs. This campaign is also a major cause of Hard Rock’s IMAGINE program benefiting WhyHunger — with a portion of the sales of Hard Rock’s Imagine merchandise, including a T-shirt, scarf, pin and bracelet, going to support this cause. Of course, there’s a special tie-in here, thanks to the message of John Lennon’s “Imagine” song’s lyrics. For more information about the Imagine There’s No Hunger campaign, go to hardrock.com.

Yoko Ono Lennon was very open to talking about her activism, her music, John Lennon and the Beatles — plus even why she recently spoofed those long-held beliefs she was the cause of the Beatles breakup, during an appearance on David Letterman’s “Late Show.”

Q: You have worked for many causes over the years. How did you come to showcase your support for this anti-hunger campaign at this point?

A: Hunger is an important issue at any time. The reason why this particular anti-hunger group appealed to me is its connection to children. It reminded me of my own childhood. When I was very young, in Japan in the middle of the Second World War, I was sent to the countryside, where it was thought we’d be safer than staying in Tokyo. While it was less dangerous, we had very, very little to eat. We were hungry all the time. I remember that so well – even after all these many years. It was terrible — that feeling of not being able to eat at all.

Q: Of course, it’s been proven that nutritional deprivation for children leads to all kinds of problems — developmental and otherwise in later life. I assume that’s a concern of yours.

A: Absolutely. But there’s also another aspect to this, which is often overlooked. Sure, our children in the west likely will grow up without hunger. But then, as adults, they will face a world filled both with people who did not have proper nutrition and also now have their own hungry children. That will lead to an ever-increasing conflict between the haves and have nots. And that is a dangerous prospect.

Q: I understand you believe there may be a cynical approach to world hunger, when it comes to certain government organizations?

A: The thing is, under normal, well-nourished circumstances, people have the energy to fight back against tyranny or anything else they may want to fight back against. But when you’re hungry, you just can’t fight, or do much of anything else. It’s a very, very difficult situation. I think that some governments don’t mind so much their people are hungry, because they don’t have the energy to overcome their circumstances. Hunger can be used to keep people oppressed. It’s a terrible thing.

Q: You are 80 years of age.

A: Where get the energy? It’s not that you have the energy and therefore you do something. But you’re creative and you create something — no matter the cause — and that’s were you get the energy. It’s really the other way around! The idea gives you energy. You don’t use energy to create the idea. When I get inspired to do something, my heart goes a little bit faster and it’s really a nice feeling.

Q: Clearly you have used your fame to bring attention to causes important to you. Is that the best thing fame can achieve?

A: If I can do anything with what fame has brought me — to put a spotlight on important issues — than I feel very lucky.

Q: Because you are so well known, people must come up to you all the time and ask things. What are the most common questions?

A: Always at the top of the list: They ask me about how it was when you were married to John [Lennon], and is it true you broke up the Beatles?

Q: Speaking of that, you recently spoofed yourself in a bit on “The Late Show” with David Letterman on CBS. How did you come to participate in that?

A: I think making fun of oneself is always fun. But with David Letterman we were thinking we wanted to have some fun about the Beatles and so forth, but we also wanted to use that skit to express the idea that people should stop being violent — or should stop fighting with each other.

Q: You were fighting against war, social injustice, abuse of the environment and women’s rights since you and John did it in the 1960s and ‘70s. Many of those issues still are unresolved today. Does that frustrate you?

A: I don’t, no. Sure, you can see the downside of things — nothing has been done yet. Or you can say, ‘Why is the sky still up there?’

In other words, you can be totally pessimistic and be depressed and look at the downside, or you can recognize the progress that HAS been made.

We’ve done pretty well, actually. We all could be dead some thirty years ago, if the nuclear threat had got out of hand. But we’re still here.

In fact it’s an era now when we’re all thinking about keeping ourselves healthy, by eating properly and things like that.

Q: That’s an important point. Proper nutrition is key to solving the world’s hunger crisis, isn’t it?

A: I keep thinking that it’s so terrible that some people in the developed world are constantly fighting to lose weight, but in the poor countries people are so hungry, they don’t know what to do. We just have to find a way to balance the situation and bring food — nutritious food — to the millions of people who need it.

Q: You have long been an active feminist. Where do you see the state of the feminist movement today?

A: It’s such a pity the world is only using half the energy — the other half is the energy women could provide. I’m speaking here about in government, business and things like that. It’s time we recognize women’s energy and use it. Women are starting to participate – just not enough.

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