Chapter 18: Good Guy? Bad Guy?
by Jimmy Abdul Gandhi Geronimo Rogers

       Day 200 in the CountUP came and went and I must admit, I was feeling really depressed. 

       On paper we were looking pretty good.  By that point, 85 Heads of State had written to say that they supported the idea of a worldwide day of peace on January 1.  10,000 organizations had signed on as cosponsors.  2000 classrooms of kids had pledged their support -- and they were writing letters, performing our peace play, and having peace fairs and assemblies in their schools and communities.  There were 100,000 people on our mailing list who received our weekly email newsletter.   The Peace On Earth Arts Center had published eighty-three books, ninety-six CDs and were marketing forty-two videos, although we weren’t anywhere near breaking even, yet.  In fact we were still giving most of them away to schools and community service organizers for events. Our daily CountUP column was costing us $150,000 a week, but it supposedly reached a readership of 25 million in 15 countries.

       The 200 Day mark was celebrated in over 100 locations in 22 different countries.  In fact we’d long passed the 10,000 event mark -- having co-produced events in more than 100 countries for over 100 different “better world days,” like Environment Day the week before; International Day of Families, World Health Day and Memorial Day for Peace in May; Earth Day and the 250 Day Mark in April; United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace, and the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in March, and scores of other events. 

       In fact, on our websites and in our CountUP column you’d find that every day was a Better World Day for some group or some country. And the next week, on the summer solstice, we were gearing up for our biggest cosponsored event yet -- World Peace & Prayer Day which was being broadcast live on the Spirituality Channel. 

       But still we hadn’t broken through to the mainstream media.  Still 99% of the world had never heard of One Day In Peace.  And most of the Heads of State and organizations that had signed on supported it, but had no intention of doing anything.  I hadn’t given up believing that we would reach that threshold at which an avalanche would occur, rapidly spreading out throughout the world.  I was keeping something from the others that both reaffirmed my belief that this would happen, and created, or rather compounded a tricky moral dilemma that Jess and I found ourselves in.

       I’d sort of anticipated both halves of the dilemma.  Actually I’d created one of them, although, in my defense, at the time I hadn’t totally thought it through.  Looking back, I’m not sure what I was thinking.  It actually seemed rather twisted, the more I thought about it.

       Jess had realized it of course, when she first began to care about the campaign.  She cried on my shoulder and asked me how her uncle could have been so cruel.  I tried to get myself to tell her it was really my fault, but I couldn’t find the courage, and I remained silent for fear that she would hate me.  Coward!  But I’d get her out of it, somehow.

       You see, she was stuck in a Catch-22.  If we succeeded in helping to bring One Day In Peace, Global Missiles Unlimited would continue to manufacture weapons of mass destruction.  If we failed, one of the world’s largest perpetuators of war and suffering would no longer be in the killing business.  We both knew that if Global Missiles got out of bombs, the niche would just be quickly replaced by another greedy corporation.  So it really wasn’t a hard decision in that regard.  But Jess would also lose all of her inheritance as well. That was a little hard to swallow.

       The other complication, which I hadn’t really told her about yet, was that according to the way the will was phrased, we had to successfully bring ONE DAY IN PEACE. The idea of a worldwide day of peace was spreading slowly, but in quite a number of instances, the new cosponsors were spreading other catchphrases, like “PEACE FOR A DAY on January 1.”  What if when the media finally picked up the message, they promoted an alternate phrase like that one, and that was the “banner” under which the world ushered in its first day of peace.  When Sir Reginald’s will became public, would activists insist on the letter of the law so that Global Missiles would cease to be, even if for all intents and purposes the world was peaceful for a day?

       The other upsetting complication had huge Machiavellian overtones.  Ever since we first discovered the campaign was being monitored, we kept a vigilant counter-surveillance operation going.  A few weeks before, one of our teams intercepted a memo from Darzol Inc.’s CEO, Roger Skyler, which I knew would infuriate the rest of the team, as well as at least half of the organizations cosponsoring our campaign.

       Roger Skyler and Darzol Inc., if you believe the Internet, were involved in countless conspiracies -- all designed to take over the world.  As one of the world’s leading dry goods / cola / cereal / pharmaceutical / TV network / book publishing / record label / computer software / professional baseball / football / hockey team / racehorse owning / car / plane / oil / biotechnology / genetically altered food / cigarette manufacturing conglomerates, this mega-corporation stood out as one of the most evil of the evil-transnationals in the counterculture’s battle against globalization.  Roger Skyler, to some, was seen as the very devil himself. 

       Unlike many of my fellow activists, I felt strongly that globalization wasn’t necessarily the mighty evil they viewed it as.  It could be used to bring the world together.  I really wanted to believe that Mr. Skyler, as he so often claimed, honestly wanted to save the world, and that he truly believed that he was trying to bring the world closer so that we could help each other to be a healthier planet.  His corporation made tons of money, but his foundation was doing a lot of good in the world, too.   He claimed that he was on a spiritual journey in his life, and I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt. 

       Roger Skyler was especially feared because he was a leading proponent of the biotechnology revolution.  Having a strong science background, I didn’t have the knee-jerk reaction that many change-the-worlders seemed to have these days towards science.  It’s true that science and technology could be used to create a frightening “brave new world,” but it could also help create a better, healthier, safer world for all.  I continued to try to hold off passing judgment about Roger Skyler’s intentions.  Regardless of what really motivated him, though, Skyler’s intercepted memo was going to upset the group, and I remained silent about it. 

       We pushed on with the campaign and slowly (very slowly) it began to pick up in acceleration.   The CountUP, and stories about the compassionate acts it was inspiring in communities, were being featured more and more in magazines. ‘CountUP’ was casually mentioned in the dialogue in several of the summer-season’s TV sitcoms.  The real icing on the cake was the news that four major recording stars had just agreed to a 21-city One Day In Peace concert tour to begin in August. 

       Still, I kept completely silent about Skyler’s memo.  That is until July 15th when Skyler’s office contacted me on Peacetopia, and Angel in Costa Rica and requested a meeting with us.  

       We called an emergency meeting of our own and everyone was quite upset.  “What does HE want with us?” Angel seethed. The others all felt the same way.  I had to tell them.  I pulled out the memo and read it to them. 

       “The One Day In Peace campaign needs to be carefully monitored.  Its simplicity and universal appeal make it extremely dangerous.  How can anyone say no to the idea of a day of peace? And yet an unbridled campaign like this one can lead to uncontrolled societal transformation. It’s too big and widespread to shut down.  An all-out counter-effort should be seriously considered to obtain managed results.  Our analysts have determined it is very close to the profitability threshold and our intervention at this juncture could reap us tremendous financial benefits.  All Level One corporate allies should be involved immediately in operation PEACE DAY.”

       The room was completely silent as everyone tried to digest the implications. 

       “So, what’s he going to do ... try to buy us out?”  Jess fumed, breaking the silence.  She of course had been all too familiar with hostile takeovers in her many years with Sir Reginald.

       “What nerve!” Artie agreed.

       “Maybe he’ll pull a cease and desist on us -- his fancy lawyers will find some way to claim the campaign is all his... after all the work we’ve done!” Angel grumbled, and buried her head in her hands.

       “I’ll get our legal team to look into our options,” Jesse assured her.

       Merle put his arm around Angel.  “Honey, don’t get upset.  Even if they do steal the idea and pour tons of money into it -- really get it out to all corners of the world and get the media on board 110% -- well would that be so bad? Isn’t that what this campaign is all about -- finding ways to inspire others to make this idea their own and spread the word in their own ways.”

       “But what exactly do they mean by ‘managing social transformation’” Angel sobbed.  “We all want the world to change, but a ‘New World Order’ can be a utopian paradise or a fascist nightmare.  There’s a fine line, and it all comes down to the intent...”

       “Look,” Merle sighed.  “People are smarter than that.  They’ll be inspired by the idea and it will transform them.”  He wiped away some tears from Angel’s cheek. 

       "'One Day In Peace' is a great mantra..." Merle sighed. "And there's magic in those words, for sure. But do we really care if we end up not getting any credit for making it happen, if it really happens? It'll change the world for the better, and we'll know that we helped it to happen, even if some megalomaniac ends up getting all the credit."

       Everyone agreed, and I had to as well.  Except then it wouldn’t work out for Jess.  But I couldn’t say anything in front of the group.  No one knew what Jess’ real motivation was for getting involved in this peace effort.  That wasn’t her motivation now -- she really cared, but would they respect her if they knew the truth?  I would never do that to her. 

       “We’ll all meet with him, of course,” Angel said after we agreed to give Skyler the benefit of the doubt and listen to what he had to say.

       Jess looked panic-stricken, and almost immediately brought up the fact that she and Art were at a crucial point in their training sessions with the team for the Peace Bus tour -- and they had to stay on Peacetopia to make sure the peace fair itinerary was set with the BetterWorld Clubs that would be hosting them on the college campuses.   I knew they had over a month to prepare, and there was no real rush, but I suspected that Roger Skyler and her Uncle had been associates, and she was worried that she’d be recognized.

       Merle, too, apparently just had to get back to Costa Rica.  He had been heading up a team to produce a film based on the One Day In Peace campaign, and they were deeply involved in the final stages of the editing.  He just had to get back right away or they’d never keep on schedule to get into the Fall Film Festivals in order to get it out in some theaters by Christmas. 

       Maya and Johnny Chen were in the middle of preparing for a huge 100,000- participant indigenous celebration in the Andes steppes, and she, too, had to get back.     

       So, it was just Angel and I that would fly to New York to meet with Skyler.   Before we left, I took Jess aside and told her why her future depended on 'One Day In Peace' being the banner for the world’s campaign.  The tears flooded her eyes again and she silently cursed her Uncle; I bit my tongue and said nothing.  

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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