A Culture of Peace
A BetterWorld Kids Adventure
by Robert Alan Silverstein
(not yet illustrated)

Grandfather loved to surf the Internet, but he had never actually been IN Cyberspace before. Now that he was, he wasn't exactly scared, but he was shocked. Maya squeezed his hand and led him through the misty-soupy haze where her friends were waiting.

"Hi everyone," Maya called out to the BetterWorld Kids who were just beginning to sit in a circle. "This is my Grandfather, Peace Dreamer."

The BetterWorld Kids happily welcomed Maya and her Grandfather into the circle and they had a seat.

The BetterWorld Kids quietly chit-chatted with each other while Ahmed, the Club Secretary, was busy tapping on his computer. "The weekly meeting of the BetterWorld Kids Club is officially called to order!" Ahmed said as he tapped away and everyone quieted down.

Everyone turned to Maya and her guest. They had heard a lot about Maya's grandfather and were happy that he could finally join them. He looked so old and so wise and kind that everyone couldn't help thinking of him as "Grandfather."

"Grandfather has just started a website that shares the visions of elders of many traditions who dream of peace for our world," Maya explained.

The children all agreed that they wanted to visit Grandfather Peace Dreamer's website. Grandfather gave Ahmed the web-address and he tapped away on his laptop.

"Tell us about your dream of peace," Sunanda asked Grandfather as Ahmed typed.

"Once upon a time, there was no more war," Grandfather began, and he closed his eyes, feeling right at home in Cyberspace. "No more guns were ever fired. Every nation worked out its problems with its neighbors peacefully. Everyone tried to get along with each other and they treated Mother Earth with respect, knowing that her gifts were not just for this generation but for many generations to come..."

As Grandfather spoke, the soupy haze began to fade away and the BetterWorld Kids found themselves sitting in the grass looking out at a tremendous valley of flowers and trees and tiny houses tucked away beneath a blue, blue sky. They heard birds chirping and the sounds of insects.

Grandfather had closed his eyes when he began describing his vision of peace on earth. When he opened them and saw where he was, he wasn't surprised at all. He smiled, as if he had traveled through cyberspace to this very spot many times before already.

"We live in a beautiful world," Grandfather sighed. "But it would be so much closer to heaven on earth if we would only DECIDE as ONE PEOPLE to work to make it so. If every decision we made as individuals and as societies was made with knowledge that our actions affect everyone around us, and will have an effect on the next generation and the generation after that... well, then we would have hope to create a world at peace."

Grandfather may not have been surprised when they materialized in this perfect place, but the BetterWorld Kids were. They couldn't believe how big and beautiful and amazing the world was.

As they sat there gazing at the wonder of it all, a Great Eagle swooped down from the sky. Its shadow was so big that it blocked the sun for a moment. Then it flapped down and landed on Grandfather's shoulder and whispered something into his ear.

Grandfather nodded. Then he stood up, and the bird flew from his shoulder and landed on the ground. But as the eagle spread its wings out, they seemed to grow until they were fifty feet wide.

"Come," Grandfather laughed and led the children onto the Great Eagle's back.

As soon as they were all comfortably seated, the Eagle rose into the sky. They soared up and into the clouds and the BetterWorld Kids shrieked with excitement. Then they swooped down and flew over the valley. Down in the valley they could see people going about their daily lives and they could feel how happy the people were. None of the Kids could remember when they had ever seen anyone that happy.

Soon they were back together in the soupy haze of CyberSpace. Grandfather opened his mouth to continue with the story.

The children were excited. They loved Grandfather's story about peace on earth. But last week they had learned something new that seemed to fit perfectly with Grandfather's story, and they just had to share it with him.

"In order to have peace on earth, we have to create a 'Culture of Peace'" Ahmed said proudly.

"Why yes," Grandfather exclaimed, rather surprised. "That's a perfect way of describing the time when peace will be what we all work for... but where did you hear that expression?"

Maya smiled and lovingly hugged her grandfather. "A friend of ours showed us that the United Nations had declared this decade as...." she paused for a moment...

"The International Decade for a Culture of Peace & Nonviolence for the Children of the World!" everyone said together.

"Really!" Grandfather exclaimed. "I didn't know that!"

The children felt very proud. Maya's Grandfather was the wisest person they knew. And they knew something he didn't know!

"But..." Johnny sighed, "We're not really sure exactly what a culture of peace means..."

"With all the violence on TV and all the problems in our neighborhoods and around the world, we know we don't have one now..." Ling declared.

"And how can we change things so that we have this culture of peace?" Sunanda wondered.

"Hmm..." Grandfather said. The children had caught him by surprise today. He thought a moment.

"In a culture of peace," José said breaking the silence, "We would learn how to work out our problems without fighting..."

"We're all part of the peer mediation programs at our schools ..." Erin exclaimed, "it's taught us a lot about conflict resolution..."

"That's a very important part of a culture of peace," Grandfather agreed. "Now, you tell me, what else would we need to have for 'a culture of peace?'"

Everyone put their thinking caps on. "Well," Solomon piped up..."Working for peace would have to be our number one goal..."

"Not just for us, as kids, but adults, too!" Jamal agreed.

"And not just people, but governments!" Sunanda exclaimed.

"And especially for corporations!" Johnny said. His father had just been laid off after 15 years at his job when his company merged with another company, and things were tough at home right now. "In a culture of peace people would come before profits!"

"Yes," Michiko agreed. "And people wouldn't have jobs that hurt people or the planet. They'd have jobs that made life better for everyone."

"And better for the earth!" Ahmed added.

"Yes," said Grandfather, "You're right about all of these things. In a culture of peace, people would not act as if today was all that mattered, but they would know that whatever they did could affect the lives of their children and their children's children."

Grandfather was very surprised. "See. You children DO understand what a culture of peace would be like... So how do you think we could change our culture so that peace was important..."

"We'd have to make the Peace Industry as big as the War Industry!" Solomon declared.

"That's a great idea!" Grandfather smiled. "Then there would lots of jobs that helped build a better world. The peace industry would help change our culture of violence into a culture of peace."

"If we had a culture of peace, then people would be encouraged to work together to solve the problems of the world," Erin pointed out.

"It would be much easier to do the right thing" Jamal agreed.

"In our culture now, when people want to do good," Grandfather sighed, "usually they have to volunteer. Their good deed is their only reward. If there were a big Peace Industry, there would be plenty of paying jobs for people who want to do good. People could finally use their creative talents and energies to find new and better ways to help others and make a better world, instead of competing to see who can make the most money..."

"Think of all the wonderful things that people could work together to accomplish in a culture of peace!" Maya exclaimed.

"We'd have REAL heroes on TV and in the movies -- role models who showed us peaceful ways get along with our families and our neighbors and between nations," Sunanda chimed.

José nodded in agreement. "People would value life more, and wouldn't find violence exciting because it really is scary, not fun like they try to make it seem!"

"Peace would be a topic that everyone could talk about," Grandfather continued.

"With our families and at school..." Jamal said.

Maya began humLing 'Let there be peace on earth.' "People would write many more songs about working together For a Culture of Peace..."

Erin jumped up and exclaimed, "People would write stories about how peace is so much more than not having wars."

"That's right Peace is a process... it's respecting the earth and each other, in everything we do..." Grandfather agreed.

"Every day we'd read stories in the newspaper about people all around the world who were making the world more peaceful..." said Ling as she tried to picture the newspaper she'd read that morning. She remembered seeing only angry headlines, when she knew the paper could just as easily have let people know about all of the positive things that were happening in her neighborhood and in places just like it all around the world.

"There would be movies about working For a Culture of Peace, and TV shows..." Johnny clapped.

"We'd learn about other cultures and other peoples. The more we find out about others' the more we realize they're just like us," Michiko giggled as she looked around at her friends.

"But how do we start to build a culture of peace?" Grandfather asked. "Who will take the first step to create this Peace Industry?"

"It's been happening all along, Grandfather!" Maya laughed. "People all around the world have been working hard to try to make a better world!"

"Yes," Ahmed called out. "So many wonderful things are happening all around us."

"You're right!" Grandfather agreed. "The news on TV keeps telling us that things are getting worse and worse, but many millions of people want a better world for us all, and are doing little and big things to make it happen."

"Someday soon, there will be so many changes happening that the world will suddenly realize the Peace Industry has turned our culture of violence into a culture of peace," Jamal assured them.

"And it'll seem like it happened overnight, but it's been happening all the time..." Sunanda pointed out.

"Many important things ARE happening!" said Johnny. "In September each year, the Ambassadors from all around the world begin their year's work For a Culture of Peace at the United Nations!"

"And on September 21 each year the United Nations and the whole world celebrate the International Day of Peace," Ahmed exclaimed.

"Yes!" said Maya. "On the International Day of Peace, all of the victories for peace that have happened throughout the year are shared with the United Nations and the world."

"And it's a time to re dedicate ourselves to work harder for peace during the coLing year..." Ahmed reminded them.

"The world is starting to Countdown to the International Day of Peace..." José began.

"And we're making EVERY DAY COUNT!" the children cheered, and each one called out a way that they were helping create a better world.

"We're taking one day at a time, and trying to be as loving as we can."

"And we learn from our mistakes, and try harder..."

"And we're helping out any way that we can..."

"Protecting the environment..."

"Helping the homeless...."


"Teaching and learning..."

"We'll let everyone know that working For a Culture of Peace is important to us!"

"ALL OF US!" the kids exclaimed.

Grandfather had tears in his eyes. Looking at the children, he knew that the Peace Industry is indeed very much alive and well. "May peace prevail on earth" he whispered as he hugged them all, knowing that this wish was really coLing true.

The Beginning…


Not yet illustrated.

© 2000, 2004 Robert Alan Silverstein
BetterWorld Kids logo by Ginger Nielson

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