Chapter 21: Peace Tour Revisited
by Artie Taylor

        We were really psyched when we boarded the ferry out of Peacetopia at 5 am on August 12th, kicking off our 42-city tour across America’s college campuses. We had carefully coordinated activities at each location.  42 college campuses, including Rutgers University in October, when I’d get to perform for my kids in New Jersey.  Early in the campaign, in addition to the grassroots BetterWorld Clubs network, we’d gotten the National Order of Fraternities and Sororities back on board -- they did an amazing job for our last Peace Bus Tour during the CountUP to January 1, 2000, considering the climate at the time. 

       Back then, “Peace” wasn’t exactly the most popular subject. After all, as we were told numerous times, we weren’t at war, at the time.  Still, a good amount of people got it back then -- that peace is more than whether or not your country is at war; it’s a process of learning to respect each other, ourselves, and the planet we share. 

       We knew they’d be on the ball this time, too, working with the BetterWorld Clubs network and getting local better-world groups involved and inspiring swarms of students to participate.   With the super-hype after the 150 day countdown to Peace Day everywhere we turned, we knew we’d be facing capacity crowds to honor August 12th’s better world occasion -- the United Nations’ International Youth Day.

      We really expected great things for the whole tour.  We’d assembled a fantastic team of entertainers -- Fred Stern, the Rainbow Maker had agreed to come out of retirement and create his giant rainbows for world peace; we had a world-class comedian, an amazing magic act, and of course, Jesse and I would be singing together as “People For Peace.”  In the weeks leading up to the launch we’d worked together on a People For Peace CD of her songs and my songs, and we were both proud about how it turned out. We had also arranged for some big name music-stars to perform at the larger venues along the tour route.  And Merle had promised that he and Maya would join us in several cities and we’d revive our King Arthur’s Peace Table routine.  Jesse seemed really psyched about playing Guinevere, Sam’s old role.

       The tour launch was at Washington State University that day.  The freeway was packed -- everyone was apparently going to the Peace Fair, and banners were waving from the cars declaring ‘142 Days till Peace Day’ and ‘International Youth Day for Peace’.   Even though, because of the traffic, we were almost late, we were more psyched than ever.

       But things didn’t go at all like we’d anticipated.  There were more people there than we could ever have imagined.  When we finally got backstage, we were told that there’d been some changes -- some major acts had agreed to be on the program.  Our sets might have to be cut down in length a little, and there’d be a little shuffling in the order.

       Sure, we understood -- the celebrity names would definitely get more attention from the media, so we could live with it.   The big name acts were great, with amazing songs about “Peace Day, January 1.”  And the audience loved it.  They were cheering and dancing and singing along.  And they all had “Peace Day, January 1” T-shirts on, and drank out of cups with PEACE DAY blazing in neon colors.  And Peace Day banners were waving everywhere. And a blimp floated overhead flashing “142 Days until Peace Day.”   And the media was all over the place, apparently with a live telecast on one of the networks and several cable stations.

       However, none of our troupe got to go on at all until late that evening when most of the crowd had gone home, and the evening news had finished and the TV cameras were long gone.

       We chalked it up to an underestimation of the popularity of the United Nations’ International Day for Youth. Obviously it was a much bigger event than we’d realized. 

      The next day we were in Corvalis, Oregon-- a much smaller venue, and there wasn’t much on the calendar that we could see.  Lefthander’s Day was quite safely the biggest event among the various commemorations.  

       Maybe there are a lot of lefties in the world, or at least in Corvalis.  Because there was a capacity crowd again, and a whole new line up of celebrities graced the stage.

       Everywhere we went, it was the same.  The message of a day of peace was certainly getting out in the world, but we were playing less and less a part of it.  At the end of each day we were left with an odd feeling.  Our dream was becoming reality before our eyes, but we were barely players in the game.

       Still, what else could we do but continue on and do our part, however small it might have become.  It was really wonderful to be a part of the experience at each campus.  You could really feel the Oneness all around you as people -- young and old -- were swaying and singing together.  The words they were singing were inspiring and uplifting and meaningful.  As you walked around and looked at the activists’ booths and the peace-games and activities they were running, you could see the passion in their eyes and their voices.  You could see that the people they were sharing their concerns with were really listening, too, and they got it.  You knew that they were being inspired and that they’d go home at the end of the day with more hope, more confidence in themselves, and more dedication to trying to better their lives, their families’ lives and their communities.

       How could we walk away from that opportunity to be part of that passion every day?  So what if only seemed like we were along for the ride.  It seemed well worth it just to see hope being born anew each day.

       A few weeks into the tour though, we did notice some changes.  “Peace Day, January 1” wasn’t the only message we were seeing on the T-shirts and banners, or hearing in the on-stage celebrity messages.  It was still about a worldwide day of peace on January 1, but there were all kinds of permutations, like “A Day of Peace on January 1” and “Just a Day of Peace.” and “One Day on Day One,” and dozens of others.

       We had been checking in each day with the Kid, and we gave him a complete report about each event.  The Kid promptly posted them on our websites.  We’d started off the tour with the idea of featuring a live video feed over our sites, but during the very first broadcast the plug for that idea was quickly pulled. 

       The network that was airing the concert on TV, slapped a cease and desist order on us and our server shut our websites down.  Skyler’s office graciously offered to allow us to enter into a licensing agreement to broadcast bits and pieces of the events, but of course we had no money to do that, so a written article had to suffice each day. 

       Anyway, the Kid told us that there were now no less than a dozen different cartels (ranging from corporate to non-profit and even governmental alliances), peddling “day of peace on January 1” variations -- each trademarked and licensed out to their own network of advertising, media and merchandising enterprises.  Everyone was getting in on the action.  Each TV Network and newspaper chain and radio station now featured its own version, with its own count-down or count-up or count-out, count-on or count-across.

       Most of the talking heads on TV insisted that this “peace fad” would fizzle out -- “You can’t maintain the public’s interest in any campaign for more than two months,” they insisted.  But it just kept growing and spreading.

       But where was it going?  And how did we fit in now?  

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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