The Better World Pledge
A Better World Kids Adventure

by Robert Alan Silverstein
Illustrated by Vineet Siddhartha

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Chapter 1
A New Friend

"The weekly meeting of the Better World Kids Team is now called to order!" Ahmed typed on his laptop. In their own homes all across the planet, the Better World Kids tapped in their club's worldwide web address onto their computers, pressed ENTER, and suddenly appeared together IN Cyberspace.

After they had finished hugging each other, the kids noticed a beautiful humming sound drifting through the misty void. They knew exactly what it was.

Sure enough, in a moment they saw Harmony, the Spirit of Kindness softly gliding towards them. They had discovered a long time ago that she had been responsible for miraculously bringing them together. And they just loved the meetings when she joined them on their adventures as their Cyberguide. But even when they didn't actually see her on their journeys, they knew she was always looking over them, keeping them safe in cyberspace.

All the Kids ran towards Harmony and began to hug her. Then the Kids noticed a new kid cowering behind her, staring with wide eyes at the cybervoid the other Kids had come to know so well.

"Sunanda!" the new kid exclaimed as he looked up at them and recognized a familiar face.

"Pierre!" Sunanda exclaimed and reached out for her friend's hand.

Pierre nervously looked around.

"It's okay," Sunanda reassured him. "I know this place seems strange, but Harmony makes sure we only connect to Peace-Friendly sites. We're perfectly safe here."

Pierre wasn't totally convinced. But he took Sunanda's hand and stepped forward to join the others.

"Everyone, this is my friend, Pierre, from France," Sunanda said to the group.

"Hi Pierre!" the kids said together.

Pierre began to forget all about his fears.

Harmony smiled. "Pierre has something exciting to share with you all, today," she said in her lovely sing-song voice. "He's going to lead you all on an adventure to learn about the Appeal of the Nobel Laureates."

Pierre's eyes widened. He still looked a little scared, but he felt a little proud, and that made him braver.

"Enjoy your adventure," Harmony laughed and hugged them all.

"Thank you, Harmony!" the Kids all exclaimed as she faded into the mist.


Chapter 2
A Noble Nobel Appeal

"What's Harmony talking about?" José asked as she disappeared. Everyone waited for a joke to follow; José loved to make jokes. Sure enough, they weren't disappointed.

"I know 'peal' means ringing of the bells," José started. "Is 'a peal of no bells' an unsolvable puzzle, like the sound of a single hand clapping?" he giggled.

The Kids thought it was a pretty punny joke. But most of the others weren't exactly sure what Nobel Laureates were or what today's adventure was going to be about, either, so they didn't have a comeback line.

"Nobel Laureates are the people who've won Nobel Prizes!" Ling exclaimed.

"Oh…Like Desmond Tutu!" Jamal pointed out.

"And Mother Teresa," Erin added.

"Right," Pierre said. "Before Mother Teresa died, she and all of the other Peace Prize winners signed a special appeal that us Kids can help spread around the world..."

"Wow!" the Kids said together. They loved getting involved in important peacemaking-activities, and this sounded like it was a BIG one.

"We all know how hard it can be sometimes to have 'peace' ..." Pierre began. "There are ALWAYS going to be conflicts..."

"CONFLICTS HAPPEN!" Johnny sighed.

"It's how we deal with those conflicts that matters..." Sunanda pointed out.

"Exactly!" Pierre said.

"We can fight and argue ... with neither side listening to the other," Maya began.

"Or we can really try to find a solution so that both sides can win," Michiko piped in.

"A win-win solution!" Sol exclaimed.

"Absolutely!" Pierre said. "There are 'tools' that we can learn to use to be more peaceful, so that we don't let our emotions make us say and do things that get us into trouble."

"We can learn conflict resolution..." said Ling.

"And peer mediation..." Ahmed added.

"And listening, dialogue, and negotiation are important skills to learn for conflict resolution and peer mediation..." Erin said.

"Yes!" Pierre continued. "Education is the key to changing our world into a culture of peace. That's why all of the Nobel Peace Prize winners signed an appeal asking the world's leaders to dedicate the New Millennium to help educate kids with tools for peace and nonviolence."

"The New Millennium sure hasn't started off on the right foot, so far!" Jamal sighed.

"Yeah, we need all the peace we can get!" all the kids agreed.

"Kids are the future, and if we grow up knowing how to work out our problems peacefully, we'll find peaceful ways to deal with the grown-up world, too." Pierre continued.

"And meanwhile, the grown-ups will change while we're learning to be peaceful, too," Ling pointed out.

"Yes, we'll help teach them!" Ahmed said, looking up from his laptop. As the club secretary he was typing as fast as he could to take good notes.

"We'll all learn together!" Maya declared.

Pierre continued explaining, "So the Appeal of the Nobel Laureates joined forces with UNESCO..."

"That's part of the UN, right?" Michiko asked.

"Yes, it's the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, which has its headquarters in Paris..." Erin explained.

"That's right," Pierre said, "UNESCO ... Hey, what's happening?!" He grabbed onto Sunanda's arm as the Better World Kids suddenly found they were standing in front of a big building.

Chapter 3
A Trip to Paris

"We're at UNESCO's website," Ahmed announced as he finished tapping into his computer. He stuck it on standby, shoved it into its case and draped the strap over his shoulder. "Come on!" he laughed.

The kids strolled together down the tree-lined street towards the UNESCO building at 7, place de Fontenoy in Paris, France.

The Better World Kids toured the building and then sat down together at a cafe down the street from UNESCO headquarters.

"UNESCO," Pierre sighed happily, and while the kids munched on croissants, he continued the story he had begun before they had visited the UNESCO site.

"Together the Appeal of the Nobel Laureates and UNESCO convinced the United Nations to declare the first decade of the 21st century as the "International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Nonviolence for the Children of the World..."

"That's a mouthful!" Ling laughed.

"But it's a great mouthful!" the Kids chimed in together.

Pierre laughed with the kids. Then he continued. "They worked hard to have the Appeal signed by 100 million people all around the world for the year 2000. They presented these signatures to the United Nations during a special Millennium Assembly in September 2000..."

Pierre lifted his croissant up to his mouth, took a bite, and then almost started choking. The cafe and the street leading to UNESCO Headquarters were starting to fade away. His eyes widened as they suddenly found themselves sitting in the General Assembly Hall at the United Nations.

Chapter 4
Dawn of a New Millennium

A guard was leaning over the Kids with a wastebasket held in his hand. "You kids can't eat in here!" he whispered motioning for them to deposit their food in the wastebasket. Each of the kids stuck the rest of their croissants into their mouths and held up their empty hands innocently. The guard rolled his eyes and checked the badges the kids had pinned to their shirts.

"VIP PASS FOR THE MILLENNIUM ASSEMBLY" he read. He rolled his eyes yet again as he walked away with the empty waste-basket.

Pierre looked down at the Badges that had somehow appeared on their shirts.

"Wow, we're back in the year 2000 at the Millennium Assembly!" Pierre laughed as he jumped up from his chair. He had completely adjusted to cyber-traveling and he was thoroughly enjoying himself now.

"Hey, wasn't that the President of the United States?!" Johnny gasped, pointing at the stage.

"And that was my Prime Minister back in 2000!" Sol exclaimed.

Each of the Better World Kids pointed out their country's former leader sitting attentively in the chamber.

"Yes, the Millennium Assembly brought the most Heads of State together in one place, ever!" Pierre told them.

They watched as the Appeal of the Nobel Laureates was presented to the Assembly along with bags and bags of signed pledges.

The great hall of the General Assembly started to fade and the Better World Kids found themselves back in cyberspace again.

"Wow, with 100 million signatures, you would think it would have shown the leaders of the world that the PEOPLE want PEACE and KINDNESS!" José exclaimed.

"Unfortunately the world's leaders haven't listened, yet," Pierre sighed. "But millions of people all around the world are trying in little and big ways to make this world a better place. And young people like me are using a kid's version of the Appeal - called the Better World Pledge - to help kids stand up and say they want a more peaceful world."

The Kids were all eager to read the Better World Pledge so they could sign it, too.

"We can get people to sign this for the International Day of Peace on September 21," Michiko exclaimed.

"And on October 24 on United Nations Day!" Ahmed added.

"And Earth Day!" Maya pointed out.

"All of those dates are wonderful times to hold campaigns to get kids and adults to sign the Better World Pledge. But even more important than signing it and spreading it, is living it," Pierre reminded them. "Every kind thing that we do helps the world to be more peaceful. We can find lots of little ways to put this pledge into action..."

"In our daily lives, you mean..." Johnny said, "like how we talk and act with our families, our friends, our classmates, and with our neighbors ..."

"And stopping to think about how our actions affect others and the environment," Ling added.

Suddenly the Better World Kids saw some giant words floating in the cyberhaze. They swam closer to have a better look and started to read the Better World Pledge together...

Chapter 5
The Better World Pledge

"I pledge in my daily life, in my family, my school, my community & my country to:

1. Be Kind - I pledge to respect people that are different, and treat people and animals with kindness and fairness.

2. Reject violence - I pledge to find peaceful ways to work out my problems without using violent actions or words.

3. Share with others - I pledge to share my time to help out in my community to make life better for others.

4. Listen to understand. I pledge to allow others to express their point of view; to find win-win solutions to problems so that both sides can win; and 'agree to disagree' if we can't come to an agreement.

5. Preserve the planet - I pledge to practice good environmental habits like recycling and helping to protect the earth and its habitats.

6. Rediscover community - I pledge to do my best to help my family, friends and community to get along.

Just as they finished reading, they heard Ahmed's laptop beeping -- the batteries were running out.

Chapter 6
A Kind Act A Day…

Pierre sighed. "Is it time to go home already?"

"But you can join us again next week for our next meeting," the Better World Kids assured him.

Before they adjourned, the kids all agreed that when they got home they would try to get their schools to sign the Better World Pledge.

"We'll get our churches and synagogues and mosques and temples to sign it..."

"We'll get grocery stores and department stores to include flyers in every bag for their customers..."

"We'll write Letters To The Editor of our newspapers urging our communities to sign the Pledge..."

"We'll write our Mayors and Governors and ask them to declare Proclamations urging all citizens to participate..."

"We'll convince our communities to stop what they're doing each day at 12 Noon and join in the universal wish: MAY PEACE PREVAIL ON EARTH!"

But most importantly, the Better World Kids decided to try to find one kind thing each day that they could do to make their daily lives more peaceful.

Then, in the twinkling of an eye, the Better World Kids were all back in their own homes.

"Thanks for inviting me to join your Better World Team," each of the Better World Kids saw on their computer screens as Pierre typed from his home in Paris.

"May Peace Prevail On Earth," each of the Better World Kids typed with a smile, and the adventure was officially adjourned. Until the next cyber-meeting of the Better World Kids Team, of course.

Better World Pledge
A Better World Kids Adventure

Story © 1999-2014 Robert Alan Silverstein
© 2014 Vineet Siddhartha

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Better World Kids header by Vineet Siddhartha