11: All According to Plan
by Jimmy Abdul Geronimo Gandhi Rogers
January and February disappeared quickly, but we were making some progress. I must admit, I’d had a vague time-schedule
in my head when we started this venture, but things just seemed to take a lot
longer than I’d anticipated. Even so, the campaign was growing by tiny leaps and
Maya was settled in Peru and she was having amazing success pulling organizations
and local governments in South America on board.
The world’s indigenous communities also seemed to be heeding the call,
and I knew that at last she was ready to face the challenge of her destiny.
We spoke on the phone every day.
Artie had successfully inspired a coalition of UN Ambassadors to lobby
for a UN Draft Resolution. They had 45
signatures so far, and he was confident that in another week or two they’d have
a hundred or more. There’d be no problem
getting a unanimous Resolution passed when the General Assembly met in September.
trip was really great for him. He spent
a lot of time with his kids and for the first time in a year was able to get along
civilly with his wife. Not that they were
anywhere near thinking about getting back together, but at least they were getting
Back here at ground zero we had a great team assembled.
There’s never any problem finding people who care out there, but usually
they can only care “part-time” -- most of their time has to be spent “making a
living” to survive. The minute we put
the word out that we were hiring at competitive salaries, we were flooded with
applications from the best in almost every field who were eager to put their talents
to use for a positive change in the world.
The ‘Twelve Peace Centers’ idea quickly went out the window. We had sixty-two set up and staffed, with every
continent covered, and the number kept growing. They were busy establishing networks, designing
educational materials and planning advertising campaigns, on limited budgets,
the best and most fulfilling progress in the campaign was that Jesse had been
bitten by the “peace bug.” She was eagerly
consuming every word about building a better world that she could find. We’d spend hours together debating “peace issues”
and sounding out ideas about various courses of action to help change the world.
I knew, of course, that part of her motivation to learn all she could was
to win Artie’s heart. But I was certain that he was just a catalyst
to help her discover her own wish for a better world. She had indeed taken a major step into her own
personal transformation, which would never be lost, regardless of whatever might
come between the two of them.
Jesse was taking an active interest in all the goings-on, and with Artie
and Maya gone, well the two of us spent a lot of time directing the campaign. By the time Groundhog Day came along (and Punxsutawney
Pete had forecast an early spring), we’d already launched a major campaign in
conjunction with the Season For Nonviolence to begin our CountUP to One Day In
We’d also worked
up and printed over a million copies of our CULTURE OF PEACE MANUAL. It was a compact but lively guide, describing
how to find peace within, and help peace to grow in one’s community, with several
chapters detailing how to set up Peace On Earth Fairs and Festivals. We had three different versions of the manual
-- one for kids, one for college students and one for adults, and each was printed
in twenty different languages. Jesse took a special interest in heading up the
team that worked on the manuals. “We’ve
got to be able to write it so that someone like me, who’s never given ‘a better
world’ a moment’s thought, will become a convert.” It turned out wonderfully! She’d spend long hours going over various parts
of it though email and on the phone with Artie and Maya. But especially with Artie.
For the 64-day long annual Season For Nonviolence, we helped to coordinate
over a thousand activities around the world, working with the international coordinators
and local church and activist groups. Predictably, however, we received very little
media coverage -- just a few smatterings about the CountUP.
Truth is, I didn’t really understand the “CountUP”
concept. I mean, I understood
it, but it didn’t make much sense.
February 1 was Day 334 and February 2, Day 333. We were
counting down to January 1.
But Artie insisted that “it worked the last time,” and
although I understood that it was just to have people see the
counting to One Day In Peace in a positive light, we were counting
down not up! To keep
the peace, however, I reluctantly agreed to call it a CountUP.
Unfortunately, the media hadn’t yet bought the concept.
I did my best to keep myself from saying “I told you so” each time he called
in from New York.
Artie and Maya had warned me how hard it was to get the media to pay attention
to anything positive that goes on in the world.
I figured it would be difficult, but I didn’t realize it would be this
the positive side, we discovered a lot of surprises that would make this venture
just that much more possible. There were
already hundreds and hundreds of networks for a better world established -- many
of them with members in nearly every country. The most impressive was www.idealist.org --
Action Without Borders -- that linked close to 50,000 organizations in practically
every country dealing with almost every issue of human concern.
Most of the networks we discovered were focused on a
specific issue, like banning landmines, or curbing greenhouse
gases, or human rights, the abolition of nuclear weapons, and
the elimination of child prostitution. There were so many issues! But the passion and desire to change the world
for the better was the same.
Although each network was hesitant to share their resources
or even their mailing lists, since we had money to work with,
it was easy to find an angle to partner with them in their efforts,
and with that monetary incentive, they were happy to incorporate
our CountUP to humanity’s first day of peace ever into their
discovered a wonderful network surprise. Apparently
his own kids had followed in their Dad’s footsteps. Artie's AMAZING daughter Melissa
had started a BetterWorld Club at her high school and not only helped spearhead
a major One Day In Peace action and awareness campaign in her community, but created
a model that hundreds of other BetterWorld Clubs in High Schools and on college
campuses all over the world were utilizing.
little brother Henry was really helping out too. He was the
webmaster of the Kindness Kids network on the internet, with
young members in 50 different countries who shared their hopes
and dreams for a better world on a regular basis. Henry
convinced the network to head up the Proclamations campaign
for One Day In Peace. By
early March they had established letter-writing campaigns in
over 1000 different schools. These kids wrote to their Mayors and Governors
and Heads of State asking them to declare One Day In Peace on
January 1. As each Proclamation
came in, we posted them on the Internet and sent copies to the
local organizations that were involved in the campaign so that
they could use them as ammunition to get more people and organizations
involved, and ultimately get the media to pay some attention.
had a very pleasant surprise, too.
She had traveled up to Central America for a conference
of Indigenous Elders at the United Nations’ University for Peace
in Costa Rica and discovered that the third of the Peace Dudes
-- her old friend Merle -- had set up an amazing multimedia
Peace Arts Center there that was inspiring artists, musicians,
film-makers and writers from all around the world to focus their
creativity on peace on earth.
Somehow, neither of our groups had heard about the other.
But once we did, we all felt even stronger that it was all coming
together as if part of a great Plan. Well, even if there weren’t, it sure was an
interesting and kind of exciting ride.
Actually, it wouldn’t be for a few more weeks until we realized really
just how ‘exciting’ peace can be. But
that comes later in our story. At the time
it seemed exciting enough just watching things come together slowly but surely.
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