15: Not all just peace, love & joy
by Artie Taylor
I wasn’t really kidnapped. Well,
not exactly. At least it wasn’t by terrorists,
although they are on the CIA’s list of “terrorist” groups. Okay, I guess I was kidnapped. But they had a reason, although when I think
back on it, a simple letter would have been sufficient.
Anyway, my abductors were Ularmaknuan leftist guerilla-sympathizers. I know, I hadn’t heard of Ularmaknu, either.
It’s a tiny independent nation in Sub-Sahara Africa. Too small to make
the maps, but not too small that the CIA hadn’t taken an interest in supporting
the current dictator who’d struck a deal with a corporate cartel for exclusive
rights to the rich titanium mines that were discovered about ten years before.
my captors, Ularmaknu had enjoyed centuries of relative peace before titanium
was discovered there. At first they thought
it would be a real boon to the tiny nation’s economy. But the minute word got out about the discovery,
western corporate interests were clamoring for exclusive mining rights, promising
huge financial rewards to the reigning leaders. The lands were seized from the tribes that lived
there by the Ularmaknuan government, and the mining rights were sold to the corporations.
That’s when the fights started to break out, which ultimately led to an
all out civil war between several tribal factions.
The seat of power has traded hands back and forth again and again, but
ten years later, the country had been ravaged by war and mining, the people were
poorer than they’d ever been, and still the fighting was going on. Any money that came from the mines under any
of the regimes went to buy weapons.
All this was told to me as I sat with my hands tied behind my back in a
tiny dark, smelly room, somewhere in the Bronx, while they projected slides up
onto the cracked plaster walls. I watched
flashing pictures of starving kids and bloody corpses and polluted steams, scorched
fields, and broken buildings.
These were sights that I’ve seen all too often in my travels. Nevertheless, it always fills me with a deep,
deep sadness. “Why are you showing me this,”
I cried out again and again. “We’re trying
to change the whole world so that scenes like this won’t ever be seen by anyone
big campaign is all about love and peace and joy and ‘celebrating our way to a
better world.’ Isn’t that just wonderful.
Let’s all pretend that everything’s that simple.
Let’s have peace for a day and then it will stay.
Well, we don’t want peace for a day. We
want justice and we want it forever. These aren’t just pictures, these are our
people. They’re suffering. They’re dying. We need action, not an airy-fairy campaign for
people who’ve never known any suffering to feel better about themselves.”
I tried to explain to them that there are millions of people and organization
out there trying to make a better world already.
Our BetterWorld Movement was just trying to show the world how much really
is going on by uniting it all under one umbrella. Sure we were spreading a simple idea and were
mostly focusing on the positive things that are happening and that could be...
but if we could help people to see that they really do want a better world, and
life really could be so much better for EVERYONE if we make it a priority for
our societies, well, then people and governments would want to right all the wrongs.
“It’s all about changing attitudes and priorities,” I tried to explain,
but they wouldn’t listen.
heard them whispering and I didn’t know what they were going to do with me. I kept imagining that the doors would burst
open and a SWAT team would rush in and rescue me.
Or maybe the Kid would roll in, in a tank that shot out flowers, or Maya
would swing in through the window, lullabying them in their native tongue, or...
My head was swimming with a thousand strange and bizarre rescue scenarios.
Then the leader, Mustafa, approached.
I winced nervously, anticipating the worst.
“You’re hopeless, kid. A hopeless
idealist,” he sighed in perfect English, and he started to untie me.
“What are you going to do with me?” I whimpered.
“We deeply apologize for detaining you, Mr. Taylor.
We only wanted to show you ‘the real world’.”
They blindfolded me and drove me to New Jersey.
A block from my house, they took off my blindfold and opened the car door.
Mustafa rolled down the window and stared out at me. “I hope you’re right, Kid. Maybe aiming for one day of peace is the answer.
You have to start somewhere, right? Well,
you go save the world. Meanwhile we’ll do what we have to do to protect
our people. But I’ll be rooting for you.”
“For us, Mustafa.”
“Yes, for us all,” he said with a sad smile.
And then they drove off, leaving me more sure than ever that the world
needed the message of hope we were sharing, but less sure that we were going about
it all the right way.
can’t tell you how happy I was when I walked into my... well, Sam’s house, and
my family and closest friends in the world were all there to welcome me home. It was one of those perfect moments when you
know that despite all the madness out there, everything’s going to be alright.
After they’d stopped hugging me and we got the kids off to bed, we sat
around the kitchen table discussing the implications of what had happened. The Kid and his counter-surveillance experts
had investigated all the leads -- the tapped phones, the Internet monitorings,
the people that were following us in our travels -- they were not Ularmaknuans.
In fact, we were being watched by no less than a dozen different entities,
including governments and corporate spies.
“We must be onto something big!” the Kid sighed.
We all agreed that we’d have to really be on our guards for the rest of
As we talked, I sat back in the comfortable chair and looked into the faces
of this unlikely gathering of kindred spirits.
It seemed odd for us all to be in the same room. We were all united in a common vision, and yet
there were certainly a lot of strange dynamics and history and baggage. I could
feel all kinds of vibes going in the air as eyes darted to and fro, obviously
exploring each other’s reactions, just as I was doing.
Of course, for me, the most uncomfortable juxtaposition was having Jesse and Samantha
sitting across from each other at the kitchen table that Samantha and I had eaten
together at for years. I tried to figure
out how I felt about each of them, but my feelings were tied up into knots, and
I wasn’t sure how I felt at all. Samantha
and I had shared so much, but I felt that Jesse and I could have much to share.
I tried to move on to explore some of the other faces.
The Kid looked like the campaign had aged him in these few short months. He didn’t seem as self-assured. I used to feel like we were all just pawns in
a plan he had clearly mapped out in his head, and that he was subtly manipulating
us all. Now he looked as uncertain about
where to go next as we were. It made him
seem more human, more likeable.
Gosh, Merle was beaming. I’d never seen him so happy.
He and Angel kept glancing at each other with that telltale look. It was impossible not to see how much in love
they were. I wondered how Maya was taking
this, after all that she and Merle had been through together, once upon a time.
face was strangely peaceful, more so than I’d ever seen it. She was smiling as she gazed lovingly at each
of us. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks. Maya could see! “Maya!” I burst out in joyful surprise, and
everyone turned to look at me.
Chapter | Next Chapter Table
of Contents | Preface | Ch 1
| Ch 2 | Ch 3 | Ch
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