24: The Day the World Stood Still
by Maya Amaru GrandVisions
There is nothing like walking through fire to test one’s faith.
Old ways are hard to change.
Miscommunication is at the root of most problems.
These and quite a number of other truths were put to
the test on the first day of autumn, just just one day after
the incredibly successful Global Ceasefire on the United Nations
International Day of Peace. The world was ready to celebrate the 100 Day
mark in the counting towards its very first day of peace on
earth. There were concerts and fairs and celebrations
planned, which were to be shown via live broadcast on every
continent. But they almost
never came to be that day. Instead,
fear took hold and quickly spread to the far reaches of the
No one knows for sure where exactly it began.
It spread so quickly because everything was in place already to bring the
world together in celebration, and because the world had not yet really learned
to stop and listen first before acting. And
I guess for a moment, the world thought it was September 11th all over again.
story exploded over the airwaves, and grew and escalated as one misunderstanding
was piled on top of another a thousand times over before the afternoon was through.
Some reporter broke the story of an intercepted message from a tiny African
nation that no one had really heard of called Ulamarknu, which alerted the CIA
to a string of nuclear bombs that had been planted in a number of major cities
throughout the world. Within minutes another
report sped across the airwaves that one of the suspected nuclear bombs was discovered
in an amusement park in Chicago.
Before this news had finished being told, a story broke
that the intercepted message the CIA uncoded indicated that
the Russians and Chinese were colluding with the tiny African
nation. The United States,
it was reported, had gone to red alert against a possible Chinese-Russian
attack. Within moments,
every nuclear power in the world was at red alert.
Meanwhile, television and radio stations kept feeding
the frenzy and panic until, almost simultaneously, most governments
ordered all transmissions to cease.
The ensuing silence over the airwaves caused even more
panic. Fortunately, the silence was quickly broken
as TV sets and radios and the Internet came alive with carefully
composed reporters who urged that people remain calm.
At the time,
Jimmy, Merle, Angel and I were actually in Chicago preparing for a 100 Day celebration
there at the University of Chicago where Arthur and Jesse’s Peace Troupe was performing.
We were amazed at how relatively calm people were.
We, and thousands of others, were huddled in the school gymnasium when
the televisions came back on. The feeling
of relief at seeing the newscasters was clearly palpable.
“It has now come to our attention that all of the early reports were premature
and none of them had actually been confirmed,” the reporter assured us.
“In fact, the presumed nuclear bomb in Chicago turns out to have been nothing
more than a new amusement ride called the ‘Atom Bomb.’”
There were spatters of near-laughter.
“We go now to the White House where the President of the United States
of America, teleconferenced with the Secretary-General of the United Nations and
most of the world’s leaders in their capitols, will explain how this terrible
We watched as the camera cut to the White House where the U.S. President
was sitting in the middle of a semicircle of TV monitors, each displaying a major
Head of State and the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
Mustafa from Ulamarknu in the monitor next to the President of France!” Arthur
exclaimed. No one else knew what he was
talking about, but the U.S. President was starting to speak, so we kept our questions
“I want to assure you, my fellow Americans, and to our fellow citizens
of every nation on Earth” the President began, “that everything is under control. The world is not, I repeat NOT in danger of
a nuclear war.”
All of the world leaders nodded in agreement.
“The Secretary General of the United Nations will now address the world,”
the President of the United States said and the camera cut to the UN Secretary-General,
who sat in the middle of a similar semicircle of monitors with the world’s leaders
“There has been a terrible misunderstanding,” the Secretary-General began.
“This misunderstanding has been cleared up amongst all nations and no nations
are at, what the media has called, ‘red alert.’ The world’s governments have agreed
that from this point on, the world’s media
will be required to take steps of greater responsibility, so that it will never
again be able to cause mass-hysteria like this again.”
Every one breathed a huge sigh of relief.
“I want to explain
to you all how this all happened.” The Secretary-General pointed to one of the
monitors. “This is Mustafa Alagarwi, the
former Chair of the People’s Party of Ulamarknu. His nation has been engaged in a terrible civil
war for nearly a decade. After many years
as chair of one of the several opposing political parties in his nation, Mr. Alagarwi
has spent the last six months helping to negotiate a peaceful settlement amongst
all parties in his country. The message that was intercepted was an announcement
of their newly-agreed upon peace accord.”
“Go, Mustafa,” Arthur was beaming.
“We are still not certain what happened, but the message was either misdecoded
and/or misreported by a number of governments that had been monitoring the activities
in Ulamarknu. The incorrectly decoded
message quickly spread and permutated around the world by an irresponsible media,
resulting in a heightened world security.” The Secretary-General paused, then looked at
the monitors around him.
"Proudly I want to say
that yesterday's successful Global Ceasefire helped pave the
way to a greater trust that allowed the United Nations, governments,
and civil society to work together in bringing this crisis to
a positive reconciliation. In the United States, the newly formed
Department of Peace, created by the US Congress this very year,
immediately sprang to action, working with counterpart governmental
bodies throughout the world to reassure their governments to
proceed calmly and rationally."
The world leaders
“In addition, civil society organizations were mobilized at a moment’s
notice, sending teams of mediators and negotiators into every region of the world. But the most significant contribution to our
safely emerging from this crisis are the hundreds of thousands of ordinary citizens
in every country who helped keep their communities calm. Thanks to their level-headedness, evacuations
were mostly conducted in an orderly fashion, without many major incidents of rioting
“In addition networks of young people were immediately
mobilized around the world, and helped to calm their peers and
parents, too. We understand
that it was young people who helped to talk sense into the leaders,
should be proud that we have kept our heads in light of the gravest potential
crisis ever to face humanity. We have learned an important lesson. This incident
has reaffirmed in our eyes and in the opinion of all of the world’s governments
that it is imperative to agree on a nuclear policy that will not endanger world
security due to errors and misjudgments. This incident, although, extremely traumatic,
will serve as an alarming reminder of the precariousness of the former inability
of the world’s nuclear powers to come to terms to create a sane nuclear agreement.
I can assure you that in the last hour more has been done to bring our
world closer to agreement than the past fifty years of talks and treaties.”
After the Secretary-General spoke, each of the world’s leaders had a chance
to address the world’s citizens. Several
commented that the “January 1 Peace Campaigns” had undoubtedly helped people to
realize the importance of working towards a safer, more peaceful world. Some pointed out that the way that people
and governments reconciled the crisis should help convince the world that indeed
it is possible to work through even the most difficult situations peacefully.
Many more encouraging and inspiring statements were made.
But more than the words they spoke was shared. Seeing all of the world’s major leaders assembled
together, addressing all the citizens of the world could not help but to make
the world feel closer and more connected.
That day, many more people celebrated the 100 Day CountUP than we would
have imagined before our shared crisis. Truly
we had experienced and lived through something that could have meant the end of
all life as we know it. Many millions
realized this in a profound way, and through this realization, found greater cause
for celebrating hope for peace on earth.
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