I knew the Black Cone, a monument to civil disobediece was here, but I forgot once I arrived in Reykjavik. I stumbled across it as I explored an area of city I haven’t seen in the last two days, on my search for an interesting meal. It sits slightly off the sidewalk with a couple of benches nearby. Nothing special — but a daily reminder of our rights and responsibilities as citizens.
The monument is a reminder of the idealism of civil liberties on which Iceland, the United States, and all great democracies were founded: it is the will of the people to be free and unencumbered by tyranny. It is our sacred duty to fight against corruption and tyranny when it presents itself. And the fight is not an individual one, but a common effort that demands we put the community before our personal greed. We cannot fight it alone; we must band together.
In the Great Recessession, after the 2009 Banking Crisis, when US banks failed because of unbridled greed and bad debt and corruption, the US bailed them out. In Iceland, when they same thing happened, they took another tack: they fought back agains the corruption and put some high ranking businessmen in jail. No bailouts. Jail.
The plaque reads: “When the government violate the rights of the people, insurrection is for the people and for each portion of the people the most sacred of rights and the most indispensable of duties. declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen, 1783.”
Art is revolutionary act. Art defines our culture. Art is a communication of who we are. I lingered at this monument for a moment, reminding myself to be brave enough to inject civil disobedience into my art and continue to stand up to tyranny.