Chapter 10: Visions of a Better World
by Artie Taylor

        That night I met Jesse was the first time I actually felt anything for a long time.  It was amazing how we just connected right away. I felt like I could share anything -- the way I used to feel with Samantha, once upon a time.  Anyway, after a while, I knew Jesse felt the same way, and though I didn’t really find out anything tangible about her life, I could see her guard come down.  She shared her feelings of disappointments and hopes and I knew that it was a big deal for her to share in that way. 

       None of this bothered me while we were under the moonlight together, sharing our deepest secrets -- after all the excitement we’d been through together that day.  But it sure scared the heck out of me when I stared up at the stars alone and tried to sleep late that night.  I felt so guilty. I kept seeing my kids’ faces, and their big, sad eyes reminding me that “Mommy is the only one for you,” and “some day you’ll get back together.”  

       I was kind of relieved the next morning when Jesse acted as if nothing had happened the night before, and I agreed that it was the best thing to do.  Especially since it seemed the four of us would be heading off to save the world together. 

       To be honest, I had mixed feelings about leaving the Injawabi.  I’d only been there less than three months, but that was a long time for me to be in any one place lately, and I’d really grown very attached to them.  Still, it felt great to be back thinking about the big picture -- trying to change the whole world -- and I was eager to start this new adventure.  Besides, this way I’d be closer to my kids, even if it was still clear across the continent on an island in Puget Sound.

       When the bus reached Quito, I got my laptop out of hock and hungrily read the emails I’d accumulated from Melissa and Henry, and wrote them a quick note about what had happened and what we would be doing, and how Daddy would see them as soon as we were all set up in Washington. 

       A red-eye flight and a ferry boat later we were there, at our new ‘Peace Center’ on the secluded island of Peacetopia.  Wow, what an estate Jesse had.  Ninety acres of rolling fields, with a huge mansion and no less than a dozen guest houses.   After the ‘simple life’ I’d been leading, for far too long, I could get used to this!  For a second I started to wonder what made Jesse tick.  To have all this wealth and to just suddenly decide to use it to change the world, while at the same time it almost seemed like she was being forced against her will by the Kid to pursue this path.  

       And the Kid -- what was his story and why did I get the feeling that we were simply puppets in a play he was improvising as he went along?

       What an odd bunch of enigmas we were.  But I only let myself wonder about it all for a second.  I was back trying to save the world; that’s all that mattered.  Besides, I didn’t have any time to think about it all.   We got right down to business, as soon as I’d unpacked my bags into my really nice new bungalow, and had our first of many, many meal-meetings.

      There were only the four of us, but we had a waiter who took our orders and a chef who created an amazing meal for each of us. While I devoured my food, the Kid explained that he'd set up a nonprofit organization called One Day In Peace, and Maya was the Chair of the Board, he was the Executive Director and Jess was the Treasurer.

      "And what do I get to be?" I muttered, feeling left out.

       "Artie, don't look so sad. You can be our Webmaster … I understand you used to be good at that sort of thing," the Kid exclaimed, as if it were supposed to make me feel better. It did.

      "The original organizations don't seem to be active anymore," the Kid gold us. Then he launched into a brief overview of the 5 year campaign that brought so many different people and organizations loosely together to try to create a day of peace on January 1, 2000.

      It really brought back some amazing memories for me and for a moment I was lost in remembering those happier times when I had someone who believed in me by my side and a wonderful, amazing goal to pursue that we believed would come true.

       "Were you part of the original One-Day-In-Peacers, Arthur?" Jess was saying, bringing me back to reality. From her tone it sounded like she was mocking me, but I shrugged it off. Nothing could destroy those good feelings.

       "No, Merle, Maya and I came into the picture much later. We read about One Day In Peace on the Internet and "met" each other through a listserve. We started a Peace Bus and traveled around performing together…"  

       I trailed off, lost again in some pleasant memories. After only a brief moment of silence, the Kid jumped in, continuing his recap. "After January 1, 2000, the campaign became about helping to make every January 1 'One Day In Peace.' The campaign's still alive, but it goes in spurts. A new crop of 'believers' comes along to give it another try, but then it sort of fades away for a while. Most of the 'day of peace' activists focus on the United Nations' September 21 International Day of Peace now. We'll work with them, too as part of our overall Plan.""

       Then dinner was done, and the Kid was ready to move from the past into the future. He put us to work right away and there wasn't much time for pleasant reverie.

       But the next few days really began to feel like old times. It felt great to be part of a team trying to change the world! However, we quickly discovered that I'd been out of the website business for too long.

       Back in the old days, I'd been a great Internet-networker. For the original One Day In Peace campaign, for example, while crisscrossing the world in our Peace Bus, I'd practically single-handedly tracked down and enlisted thousands of organizational co-sponsors in 150 countries all via the Internet through my laptop, and designed and maintained a pretty wicked website to tie it all together, to boot.

       But I never really enjoyed the technical side of it all, and the Internet had grown by leaps and bounds, technologically.  Nothing that I knew back then applied anymore.  That first day, I sat down at my newly assigned state-of-the-art computer terminal, and the Kid told me what he wanted our website to be like.  I just stared at him because it was all gibberish.

       “Don’t worry, Artie, we’ll find a better assignment for you.  Webmasters are a dime a dozen.  We’ll put your talents to better use.  I’ll think about it and you think about it, and between us we’ll come up with something.”

       For the moment, until we figured out ‘my niche’ in this peace brigade, the Kid had me call all the contacts I’d had over the past decade or so, and enlist them in our new One Day In Peace army. 

       I had a fun couple of weeks touching base with all of the people in my past, and it really made me realize I’d been part of a lot of amazing things.  Which also made me really homesick for my kids.

       The Kid completely understood.  “How’d you like to be our United Nations representative and fly to New York to meet with the Ambassador of Costa Rica to get a UN Resolution going for the world to celebrate One Day In Peace.  You can spend a few weeks or a month there lobbying the UN Ambassadors to get them on board, and at night you can take the bus over and spend some time with your kids in Jersey.”

       I had been part of the effort to get the United Nations behind the January 1, 2000 campaign for a worldwide day of peace, and it did, in a small way.  Technically, ‘One Day In Peace, January 1’ is officially on the books, but so are thousands of other resolutions.  This time we’d really get the UN engaged in helping to promote humanity’s first day of peace on earth.  And I’d get to see the kids!

       For the next few weeks before my trip was to start, I was floating on a cloud.   Winter in the Pacific Northwest is often rainy but lately every day the sun was out in full force, and everything seemed full of hope and promise.  

     It really did feel like old times. All that was missing was Merle. No one had heard from him for a couple years. "One of these days, he'll turn up and we'll all be together again, fighting the good fight," I thought out loud, and I really believed it.

       One morning as the big day for my trip got closer, I went to Seattle to get some things for the trip and ended up buying a guitar. (The Kid said I could get whatever I needed -- what a trip to not have to worry about how much things cost!)   It felt so good to sit back with a guitar, delve inside again into that pool of creative energy, and just let a song flow out.  Gosh, how I’d missed that.

       The morning I was to leave, I was sitting in the shade, under a towering pine tree, singing a song about my wish for a more peaceful world, making it up as I went along.  I was completely in the groove, lost in the feeling, and it came out just perfectly.  Then I noticed there was a voice singing along.  I hesitated only for a second, with my eyes still closed, then continued on with the song, enjoying the harmony that followed my voice.

       It was an amazing experience.  The voice followed my every note, gently harmonizing perfectly.  It was that kind of moment you never want to end.  I didn’t dare open my eyes because I didn’t want to lose the groove.  I actually wasn’t sure whether the voice was real or just in my head, and I didn’t want it to stop.  When the song was done, I waited a sweet moment of silence afterwards, enjoying the echoes that continued on in my mind.  When I opened my eyes, there was no one there.

       I rose quickly and my guitar plopped gently into the pine needles.  I caught the blur of a woman disappearing around one of the guest cottages.  I had no idea who it was. By this point, Maya and the Kid had hired a whole slew of interns, and had flown in tons of friends and consultants, and it could have been anyone.

       I really needed to know who it had been, because I’d never sang so well with anyone before, especially just improvising like that.  Sharing that song gave me an idea of what it was I’d like to do for the campaign, at least for the moment.  I knew that I’d be up to it if that voice would accompany mine. 

       Over lunch that day I brought it up with the group.  (We always ate together every meal, no matter how big “the group” was that day, and some of our best sharing and brainstorming happened over those meals.)  “When I get back from New York, I’d like to help set up a new ‘Peace Bus tour.’  I’d like to perform some of my songs, and we could travel to college campuses and get local performers involved.  We’d set up a schedule ahead of time and get all the local environmental, peace and social activist groups involved to set up a Peace Fair on the campuses we’d be visiting.  Like we used to do way back when.  Remember, Maya?”

       Maya smiled.  Of course she remembered.  She thought it was a perfect mission for me.  “While you are assembling a team, maybe we can come up with a simple manual so that other teams can set out from the other Peace Centers in a similar fashion.”

       I thought that was a great idea, but her implication was that she wouldn’t be part of the Peace troupe this time. She confirmed my fear, and shared with the group that she’d be leaving for a couple months to set up another Peace Center in Peru.  I was heartbroken.  Somehow Maya didn’t see how sullen I’d become.  Or maybe she was trying to teach me something; that would be more like her.  But what?

       The Kid saw my disappointment right away, though.  “Maybe you should work with Jesse on some songs when you get back. You sounded wonderful together this morning.”

       I gasped and looked down the table at her.  She was beet red and fidgeted uncomfortably in her chair.  Never in a million years would I have imagined it had been her.  Crap.  Now what was I supposed to do?  I had tried my best to avoid her the past few weeks since we’d been there.  That wasn’t exactly an easy thing to do because, well, she never seemed to have anything to do and was always wandering around with a lost look on her face.

       “Was that really you?” I asked hesitantly as I chased after her after lunch.

       “Yeah, sorry about that.  I heard you and it sounded pretty and I... I just closed my eyes and... well, that’s what flowed out.  Sorry I bothered you.”

       “No, you sang beautifully. I...I really enjoyed it.”

       Jesse looked down sadly.  “Yeah, I did, too.  I didn’t know I could sing like that.  It felt good.  Almost like, I... well, like I’d finally found my voice.”

       I stared at her for a moment.  Gosh, she really was beautiful.  Would I be able to sing with her, without falling for her?  I’d never be able to go out on the bus tour alone.  “I really would like it if you’d be part of the troupe and sing with me, Jess...”

       She looked up and there were tears in her eyes.  “I think I’d like to. I think I’d really discover my own voice.  But I... I don’t know anything about ‘peace.’  How could I go out there and sing about it?”

       I sighed and smiled.  “I’m leaving for New York this evening...” How I wished we’d discovered this sooner.   “But while I’m gone, I’ll leave some things you can read,” I offered.  “Some visions of the kinds of things that would help make a better world.  But you know, Jess, while we were singing together, you felt exactly what ‘peace’ feels like.  Peace already exists inside each of us...”

       “It sure doesn’t exist in the world, though!” she sighed.

       “No,” I agreed.  “But if we can only help people to see what it might be like if we all got along, and if we really believed that if we all worked together we could make this world so much better ... maybe people would try.”

       “Art, I think I’d like to believe that.  But I can’t envision it.  There’s too much wrong in the world.  It’s so overwhelming.”

       “But if you just try to imagine what it would be like, and if you could really picture it, you’d want to try everything you could to make it all just a little bit closer to that vision.  At least, that’s what it’s like for me.” 

       We stopped walking, and we were under the same tree where we’d sung together that morning.  “Sit down, Jess.  Let me share one of the visions I’ve collected. This is a song I wrote that's based on a vision statement from an amazing peace group down in the San Francisco Bay area -- Pathways To Peace. Maybe in these words you'll get a glimpse of what this world could be like, if only... Close your eyes...”

       Jesse sighed and hesitantly sat down and leaned against the tree.  “Okay, relax,” I whispered, sitting near her. “Breathe in and out, slowly and deeply.”  I watched her breathing and breathed deeply myself. 

       “Now... Imagine a world where nations never war. Where no more weapons are fired any more... ”

       Jess winced and shivered, and I watched as a tear rolled down her cheek. That sure pushed a button.

       “Breathe, Jess... Imagine a world where people do what's right And the rule of law is stronger than the rule of might...

       “Imagine a world where everyone has all they need. Where kindness and compassion are taught instead of greed. ..”

       A gentle breeze and our breaths were the only sound in the world.

       “Imagine a world where the global economy is based on what's best for all earth's communities...

       “Where beauty and art and the media inspire the best in all, and lift our spirits higher...

       “Imagine a world where science and technology serve only to bring out the best in humanity...

       “Imagine a world where no child is left behind, where children everywhere are free to educate their minds...

       “Imagine a world where tolerance and diversity are the golden rule that guides humanity...

       "Imagine a world where people don't neglect the beauty of the earth, and treat it with respect..."

       I was silent for a moment.  “Jess, this is a world at peace.”  I closed my eyes tightly, wishing with all my heart that she could see that world that could be, if only...  “May peace prevail on earth...”  I whispered.

       We sat there for a few more minutes, just breathing in the wonderful day together.  When I opened my eyes she was smiling at me.  “That’s a very beautiful vision, Art.  I hope that someday I can believe in it as much as you do.”

       “I think you will, Jess,” I smiled.  She started to get up, and I looked up at her with the sun behind her golden hair, shimmering like a halo.  “I know you will...” I whispered with a sigh.

       “I guess you’d better get packing,” she sighed herself, and reached out to help me up.  “I’d like to read those things you were talking about to get a better understanding of your utopian dream...”

       “Oh, yeah,” I said, trying to shake the electric feeling that rushed through my body at her touch.  It lingered, refusing to go away when she let go of my hand. 

       “I’ve got this great book,” I garbled, then coughed to continue, “Visions of a Better World -- thousands of people, young and old, in over 100 different countries shared their ideas about what a better world would be like, in pictures and words, and the Brahma Kumaris, who coordinated this United Nations Peace Messenger Initiative, broke it down into 12 themes.  It’s a beautiful book and the Global Vision Statement they compiled from the responses is really inspiring ...” 

Once I got started, I began talking a mile a minute. “And the Earth Charter, that’s a great document that took ten years with input from hundreds of thousands of people!   And the Hague Appeal for Peace Agenda --  wow, that document came out of this great conference in the Netherlands in 1999 with 10,000 peacemakers from all around the world ... and Peacetopia: 100 Milestones To Our Utopian Future ... and The Better World Handbook, you've got to read that! It outlines 7 foundations for a better world and how together each of us can help build a better world... and We Want Peace On Earth: A Guide for the Peace On Earth Movement, by The People For Peace Project…and ...”

       “Okay, Art,” she laughed.   “That sounds like a great start.  I promise that I will read it all, and maybe when you get back it’ll have inspired a song or two of my own, and maybe we can sing them together.”

       “I’d like that, Jess,” I smiled as she walked me back to pack my things.

       She listened to me babbling on as I stuffed clothes into my bags.  We hugged and then I watched her walking away into the dusk, flipping through the Better World Handbook as she stepped down the path.  My whole body was smiling as she disappeared around a bend.  It felt so good to know that she was getting a peek into the vision that both haunted and inspired my every waking moment. 

       “A 'better world' isn’t an impossible dream,” I whispered to myself.  “It could be if we only made it our priority to make it so.”   My heart leaped as I realized Jesse and I would help people decide to choose to make it our global priority... together.

       I never believed more in my wish for peace on earth than in that moment as I smiled and thanked my lucky stars that the Kid had heard us singing. 

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Table of Contents | Preface | Ch 1

| Ch 2 | Ch 3 | Ch 4 |
Ch 5 | Ch 6 | Ch 7 | Ch 8 | Ch 9 |Ch 10 | Ch 11 |
Ch 12 | Ch 13 | Ch 14 | Ch 15 | Ch 16 | Ch 17 |
Ch 18 | Ch 19 | Ch 20 | Ch 21 | Ch 22 | Ch 23 |
Ch 24 | Ch 25 | Ch 26 | Ch 27 | Ch 28 | Ch 29

A Novel about creating humanity's first day of peace
Robert Alan Silverstein

The People For Peace Project

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May Peace Prevail On Earth