20: Turning Point
by Peace Dude
I was in the garden when Angel returned from the meeting with Skyler. I heard the cab pull up and I brushed the dirt
off and went to greet her. “Angel, honey,”
I called down to her as she dashed up the path to our bungalow. She didn’t hear me, and as I called again I
saw the panic in her face as she stared blindly ahead. Something was up.
By the time I reached the bungalow door I found her crying in the middle
of our bedroom floor, holding a mostly-empty sack.
“Angel,” I whispered.
She looked up at me, her eyes filled with tears and her lips were trembling. I rushed over and hugged her. “Merle, it’s all gone... it’s all over...”
I held her, and rocked us softly and gently.
“Angel, calm down, honey. Just breathe,
slowly. We’ll work it out, whatever it
is. Tell me what’s wrong.”
“They’ve got all the money in the world, Merle...”
She broke into sobs again. “And
we’ve got nothing left -- it’s all my fault.”
she told me that she’d never counted our money.
As soon as we had arrived in Costa Rica back in January, she stashed it
all in our closet. Every week she just
took out what we needed for the week’s budget.
“Every time I reached the end of one of the bags, I’d put it back in the
closet, I guess, sort of figuring the angels would fill it back up. But they’re all empty and this is the last one.
This is all we have left, Merle!”
I tried to comfort her. It certainly
wasn’t her fault. “Jimmy will figure it
out. Jesse’s got tons of money left, I’m sure.
It’ll be fine.”
Except, it wasn’t. We called an emergency financial meeting, and teleconferenced
in some of our biggest Peace Centers. Angel
bravely delivered the bad news. Then Jimmy
followed suit with a sobering update of his own. Apparently there wasn’t enough left in Jesse’s
trust fund to make it through the summer at our current pace. Everything would have to be cut to the bone.
Jimmy was going to have to eliminate the funding to the 120 Peace Centers. We'd helped them set up, and they’d done so
many amazing things so far -- coordinated events in their surrounding communities,
distributed literature, set up volunteer and service programs to put peace in
action, and they’d coordinated no less than fifteen Peace Bus Tours, which were
crisscrossing the globe. But now, the Peace
Centers would have to survive on their own. Somehow.
The Peace On
Earth Arts Center still hadn’t made a profit with any of the books or CDs. We’d have to close down the workshops for the
summer, and maybe the fall, too. The marketing
and distribution was really the biggest drain on our resources. We’d keep them listed on the websites, but no
The CountUP column was by far the biggest financial drain.
We had hoped that a major newspaper chain or TV network would pick it up
and pay to run it in syndication. You would
think they’d see how it would be an asset after we’d built up a huge following,
but only a few dozen local papers were running it as a column and not a paid advertisement,
and only because we let them run it for free. We’d continue to feed it to the freebies and
feature it on our websites, but that’s it -- we couldn’t pay another dime to keep
it in the major papers.
One Day In Peace concert tour was already committed and too
close to cancel, and Artie and Jesse’s team were just about
ready to set out on their Peace Bus tour.
We’d have to scale them both down, but they seemed essential
to the campaign. So did
the Peace Proclamation and Peace Education programs the Kindness
Kids were spearheading. We’d
have to cut down on the prizes we were offering to the kids
who convinced their Mayors, Governors and Heads of State to
support One Day In Peace, but the education programs would have
to continue. Educating kids and adults about ways to create
and practice peace is the only way we can really transform our
I have to admit, it did feel like someone had let the air out of our tires. Over the next few weeks all my mantras seemed
to be failing me and I found it hard to continue to be Mr. Positivity. Even my wand seemed to offer me no comfort.
Then August 4th came, and true to his word, Skyler’s coalition launched
their countdown in an unprecedentedly coordinated media-hyped all-out global gala
celebration with tons of freebies and the biggest celebrities inviting the world
to join in. It seemed everybody was suddenly
talking about the countdown to “Peace Day, January 1.”
Of course we had mixed feelings, but our spirits were lifted overall. It was amazing to see the newspapers and TV
news discussing the possibility or impossibility of a day of peace on earth --
and telling the stories about kids and grownups who were using the countdown to
build closer communities. It was inspiring
to overhear people debating it on the plane, or on a bus or at the next table
at a restaurant.
the world’s sudden interest in peace, suddenly we were getting sales for the Peace
On Earth Arts Center’s books and CDs, too. Not
a lot, but a lot more than we had been getting. Maybe it would work out after all. For a while there, everyone seemed to have caught
the positivity bug.
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