March 16, 2016 Kelsey

Finding Peace in Iceland

Iceland has been judged the most peaceful country in the world by the Institute for Economics and Peace – for the fifth year in a row.

Not only has Iceland’s landscape convinced me it might be the most beautiful place on earth, but it is also the most peaceful country I think I’ve ever been to.  I don’t have a car living here, so I walk everywhere. Not once have I felt threatened or scared walking down the road at night in downtown Reykjavík. The first time I ever saw a baby in a carriage sitting alone on the side walk while Mom had run into the store, I was totally shocked. There are so many other parts of the world where this would be ultimately dangerous but there’s something different about Iceland.

In comparison to the rest of the world, Iceland has a very low level of violence. Some people believe it is due to the high social equality, you will not see the juxtaposition of the rich and the poor as clearly as you can in other countries.  The absence of violence results in the police not having to carry guns. Yes, you heard me correct… the police do not have to carry guns here! That fact alone speaks for the whole country’s peacefulness.

It is no secret that the rest of the world is fighting over oil and other energy sources, but Iceland is far removed from that. The energy sources here in Iceland are mostly taken from  natural renewable resources. The geysers and geothermal energy make up most of the country’s power source, this is now Iceland is able to be almost entirely energy independent from the rest of the world. The earth is literally fueling their country. When you turn on the tap for hot water, there is no tank in the basement electrically heating your water, it is being pumped from through a network of pipes from the ground to your tap. The volcanic activity on the island does all the work! No one can own the volcanoes or control them, so no one is fighting.

With the absence of real fighting, Iceland has no military presence. And it’s not that they can’t afford it! They would just rather put their money towards the Iceland Crisis Response Unit (ICRU), which contributes to peacekeeping missions. I don’t think it is any coincidence that the most peaceful country on earth has not need for an army. Most of us have this idea that military presence “keeps the peace” but I see it as the opposite. One of the main reasons Iceland has peaceful law is the amount of people living in the country. With a small population the need for heavy enforcement is minimal.

Almost all education in Iceland is paid for and provided by the country. With a higher level of overall education comes respect for one another. **

And lastly, Yoko Ono built her Imagine Peace Tower on an island called Viðey just off the coast of Reykjavík. She chose Reykjavik because there is no war and no pollution. Her tower symbolizes a continual campaign for world peace and she thought fit perfectly with Icelandic lives.

 

By: Kelsey Heide

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