23: The Most Exciting Chapter
by Henry Taylor
I’m Henry Taylor, Mel’s little brother.
I mean I’m not that little - I’m eleven.
Well, in seven weeks, anyway. I’ve
been wanting to have a chapter here for quite a while, but Melissa didn’t think
that the stuff I wanted to tell you about was “appropriate” for the story. The stuff I wanted to share is totally exciting.
It would have had you on the edge of your seats.
The only problem, is well, I guess I do have a somewhat “overactive imagination”
as Mom’s always saying, and the stuff I wanted to tell you about sorta stretched
the truth just a little bit. Okay, it was
mostly daydreaming, but it would have made the story a whole lot more exciting.
I finally convinced Dad to convince everyone else to let me tell a chapter,
but they all made me promise I wouldn’t make up stuff and pretend it really happened.
my chapter would have totally rocked. I mean you be the judge. Picture this -- the corporate- military-industrial
complex -- you know the secret society of stuffed-shirts behind the scenes that
really runs the world -- well, like they’re really pissed off at this new BetterWorld
Movement that is growing in every corner of the world. And they like get all kinds
of agents out into the field to mess up all the peace events and bring up dirty
stuff about the people involved.
At the same time, all these end-of-the-world crazies
are running around saying that the end is coming, because even though the world didn’t end in the year
2012 like they thought, there’s some new crazy reason why the
world’s just about to be destroyed. And they believe it so much,
they’re going to try to make it happen.
Anyway, this all knocks the BetterWorld Movement completely
off course, except no one counted on how much of a difference
us kids could really make. Kids all around the world link together through
the Internet and through meeting in school and in their churches
and synagogues and mosques and they organize events and write
tons and tons of letters to everyone -- world leaders, business
leaders, celebrities, you name it. Kids everywhere start writing articles in papers
and get on the news and it just gets too big and the military-industrial
complex just can’t compete.
And not only that but there’s all this really exciting stuff where kids
break the surveillance codes and trick the military-industrial complex guys with
counter-surveillance stuff, sending them on wild goose chases. Oh, and then there’s the part where kids outsmart
the agents out there and get chased on trains and on airplanes and stuff.
I mean, I imagined it a lot more exciting than I’m making it sound. There’s like tons of hi-tech stuff and chases
and well, anyway, it ends with the kids teaching the adults how to get along,
you know in a really dramatic, heartwarming grand finale.
Well, it was a really cool movie in my head.
Hey wait, then there was this other idea I had where the planet is going
to be taken over by aliens, and like the whole world stops fighting each other
and they decide to fight these aliens instead.
And like everyone’s getting along for the first time, but the adults are
getting ready to have this big awful war with the aliens. But meanwhile the kids figure out a way to contact
the aliens, and they get in touch with alien-kids and find out they’re not really
bad aliens at all.
But like the Earth-kids and the alien-kids have a hard time convincing
the adults and the war almost happens, but the kids finally save the day, and
the aliens bring Earth all kinds of great things like cures for diseases and stuff,
and the people of Earth give the aliens a lifetime supply of aluminum foil, which
is the one thing the aliens were missing to get their crumbling planet back into
So don’t you think it would have been a cool chapter?
Anyway, I can’t talk about any of that.
They’re all rolling their eyes already.
I guess I’d better just start out by telling you more
about how I fit into all this.
name is Henry, like I said, but everybody calls me, ‘O’ though most people have
no idea why. Mom and Dad used to love to
tell us the story, Gift of the Magi, by O’Henry.
When I was in pre-school my sister Melissa started calling me O. I didn’t like it back then when I was just kid.
But that was years ago. I don’t mind it at all now. Actually I like
it because well, Melissa, or M as I used to call her back, well, M and I together
are Dad’s ‘OM.’
When he and Mom got separated, it really hurt a lot. It hurt him and Mom,
too, I know. Dad said it was so hard being away from us,
and that the only thing that really brought him strength to face each day was
to think of his O and M. So that’s why
I don’t mind being called O.
Anyway, enough about me. I’m really
glad that I get to tell a chapter, even if I can’t tell you a whole bunch of exciting
stuff, because well, if I don’t mind saying, the story really needs me at this
point. The way every one is going on --
well, they’re not painting a very good picture about what it was like. The way they’re making it sound, well, it sounds
like everyone is fighting over peace. But
the truth is, it was amazing how things were changing.
When we went
to school that September, everything was different. It was much more than just all the clothes and
the school supplies everyone had with all the popular peace phrases monogrammed
on them. It was more than planting that
peace pole in front of our school on the very first day back; and how all the
students and teachers joined hands and sang together. A lot of kids thought it was going to be corny,
but everyone loved it, and every day that peace pole reminded us that we were
trying to be a peaceful school together.
It was more than seeing cartoon character talking about peace on TV and
about hearing peace talked about in a lot of the latest music and in some new
movies. It was like there was a change in the way people
thought. Sure kids still spent a lot of
time at the mall, trying on all the latest peace-fashions, but they also spent
a lot of time volunteering after school in local programs, and just generally
going out of their way to try to be nice to each other. It really made a difference.
Classes were different at school, too. We had a Peace Education lesson
every morning. We learned about conflict resolution, and we
talked about how to make our school better, and our community, and the world,
too. And when we came up with a good idea
for our town, and we brought it to the Mayor -- she really listened, and they
acted on the ideas that we came up with. The
same thing happened with our Governor and our Senators. People everywhere seemed to go out of their
ways to listen to what kids were saying.
Sure, there were still fights and disagreements, but we helped each other
to get through it and get over it.
Every night on
the news, we’d see that the kinds of things that were happening in our school
were also happening in schools all across the country and around the world.
It really made you think.
And it wasn’t just with kids or only in school. Adults seemed friendlier
everywhere -- at the checkout counter, even on the highway.
You used to always hear people cussing at each other when there was a lot
of traffic and people were hot and tired. But
most people now didn’t honk or yell, and you know, the traffic jams cleared up
a lot quicker.
The whole neighborhood seemed friendlier. Everyone
talked to each other, and listened to what others were saying, and offered to
lend a hand if you needed it. Every day
life seemed happier than it had before. You
felt safe. You felt that you mattered and
that life was going somewhere, not just for you, but for your friends and people
you’ve never met, too. And you felt close
even to those people on the other side of town and the other side of the world.
It felt like one big family. A family
that had its problems, sure, but a family that cared about each other, and wanted
to work those problems out, together.
didn’t hear anybody really spelling it out, but you could see
all kinds of changes taking place.
Like, take Tommy’s Mom for example.
Tommy’s my best friend next door.
His Mom liked to volunteer a couple days a week at the
shelter downtown. She’s
always said how much more she enjoyed her volunteer work than
she did working in her office.
Well you know, some company made a huge donation to the
shelter, and now she works there full-time and gets paid to
do what she loves to do. The same thing happened to a bunch of other
kids’ parents in my class – they were suddenly able to find
jobs working for nonprofit organizations that were out there
making a difference. And through the Kindness Kids Network that
I belong to, well, I know that people all around the world were
suddenly finding paying jobs that help make life better for
other people and the planet.
I think that’s totally cool.
Now, I don’t know if they passed some laws or if it just happened on its
own, but that fall a lot of the new cartoons and TV shows didn’t have half the
violence the old ones used to. And the
newest best-selling video games -- they were exciting, but they were all about
helping the planet, or helping other people.
Oh, and that fall was when it was cool to have a “clean-energy” car. They had that trade-in program and suddenly it
seemed like every family had one.
I could go on and on... And it is true that all these changes
didn’t happen everywhere. But
it seemed like it was. And
maybe it’s true that the peace-competition stuff did get a little
crazy -- when companies realized that peace could be profitable
they might have gone a bit overboard. But I think it really helped the world keep
its head at the end of September, that day the world stood still
and held its breath. That was some chapter in our lives. I mean it was almost as scary as the chapter
that I would have told if they’d have let me.
And young people all around the world, including our
Kindness Kids network, ended up helping to save the day -- just
like I was going to say. But I’m not going to be the one to tell that
chapter at all, because you’d think I was making it all up. So Maya will tell it. Everyone knows she’s the wisest and most trusted
person they know. With
Maya telling it, you’ll have to believe it!
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