Abby Rogers

Yoko Ono just doesn’t understand why adults are grumbling about young people.  “These days you have to understand that the youth are very bright people,” she said.

During a discussion at the Paley Center for Media in New York City about her work and activism, Ono talked about how the younger generation is often unfairly criticized for a perceived lack of social consciousness. “Most of us are now activists,” Ono said on Tuesday, frequently lapsing into memories of her work with John Lennon and using body language to make a point. “We will probably, together, take ourselves to something better.”

Millennials just do it differently, she said. Instead of inviting reporters into their bedrooms, millennials join together on social media to fight for their causes or institute small changes in their daily lives.

“They’re just going to show us with their actions. And I think they’re going to be alright,” Ono said.

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Not only does Ono believe in young activists, she has some advice for them. Ono, as most know, was widely reviled for years as the woman who supposedly caused the breakup of the Beatles. She said she sometimes faced public anger over that perception and recalled one time when she performed “Cut Piece,” an interactive experience where she invited members of the audience to cut off pieces of her clothes.

At one point during the performance, she remembered, things starting to get a little too real for comfort, mimicking a guy pretending to stab her. But Ono didn’t get scared then — and doesn’t think people should run from their critics now.  “The fact that I was attacked so much was actually very good because it just made me wiser,” she said.

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Don’t ever be scared of criticism or opposition, just learn from it, she advised. “When you’re hit by a sword or something, you don’t fight it, you just kind of like, go through it,” Ono said. “Whenever there is something incredibly difficult, I just take it as something that is happening in my life and how I can change it.”

“If I don’t change it,”she added to laughs from the audience, “I might die.”

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Abby Rogers is a feminist who is completely content being a crazy cat lady. She reads everything, but only in real book form — no e-readers thank you very much.