Better World Team story fragment, reflection or sketch...

Us And Them

"When I was a little girl," Maya began, "my family brought me to Israel to live on a kibbutz for the summer… I don't remember a whole lot from that time, but I recall that I was a little frightened and a little excited to be in such a strange place so far from my suburban life outside a big American city. Most of all I guess I was a very curious little adventurer.

"There was one time there that my curiosity nearly got me into quite a lot of trouble. You see I'd been told terrible things by other children and several adults living on the kibbutz - stories about how different and sinister Palestinians were - even Palestinian children.

"That's the frame of mind I was in, when one day somehow I wandered outside the safety of the kibbutz, and got lost in the desert brush. I was frightened and even more so when I eventually found myself standing in the middle of a dirt street in a small Palestinian village." Maya paused for a dramatic moment.

I sat in the audience, my eyes riveted on her, and I felt a rippling of attentive energy all around me. She had an amazing presence, captivating and charismatic; a master storyteller, weaving the words of a simple story into an irresistible tale of mystery and intrigue. I'd never seen her like this before.

I was so glad that The Team had decided to come along to Maya's conference for this 'test run' for the Better World Roadtrip we were planning. I glanced over and saw Artie behind the video camera. This will make a great clip, I smiled, knowing the camera would surely capture Maya's intriguing magnetism. My gaze carried back up to the stage where Jessica was sitting behind Maya with a panel of other speakers waiting their turn to share with us. I couldn't wait to see how she'd do on her first test run in front of an audience. I was certain she would shine as well. I felt a rush of pride - what an amazing Team we'd assembled. Maya was speaking again and my attention returned to focus on her.

"I had fallen and cut my knee and it hurt, and I was hungry, and tired, and very scared, and I was crying, when a small group of Palestinian children approached. To be honest, I was a little confused; they didn't look all that different from the children at the kibbutz. Their clothes were a little strange, but they didn't seem nearly as frightening as I'd expected. The kids started asking me questions, but I had no idea what they were saying, and I started crying again. Then a man wearing a keffiyah on his head approached and I gasped again in fear, really expecting the worst. But he was smiling and he spoke some English and asked me if I was lost and if I was living on the kibbutz nearby. Choking back my tears I nodded, and he smiled again and told me not to worry, but that he and the children would bring me home.

"By then his wife had emerged from her doorway and after they exchanged a few words, they invited me to have something to eat first. I sat with the man and his wife and their children and we ate together and they made me feel like part of their family." Maya paused a moment again and smiled at us.

"Even though I was so young at the time, that experience really shaped the way I would see the world for the rest of my life. Without really putting it into words or even concrete thoughts, that little girl recognized that biases and prejudices are often passed on out of fear - creating a polar 'us versus them' perception of the world. The truth was that when you really get to know 'them' you see how much like 'us' they really are, and you realize there really is only us.

"That formative experience led me on a life path of learning that brought me an even deeper appreciation of the interconnectedness of all people, and to see our differences as opportunities to celebrate our diversity rather than be afraid of it. Learning about different beliefs and customs provided me with fresh perspectives so that I could gain new insights about the world and myself. That one formative experience early in my life really led to the work I do today as an interfaith minister, helping to promote intercultural and interfaith understanding between people."

Maya looked down for a moment, then looked up with a smile. "Thank you for inviting me to be here today." She sat back in her chair as a roar of applause and tears thanked her for sharing with us.

The rest of the conference was a blur. Jessica did her shtick as the Better World Girl. She was amazing - the routine was perfect. Her timing was spot on - the audience really got the mix of humor and serious issues. And when she got out her guitar and did The Diversity Song we had come up with earlier in the week, she had everyone cracking up at times and crying at others …

Really, the whole conference was very heartwarming - so many stories about amazing things people were doing. Artie got a lot of it on film and I was sure we'd have all kinds of material to work with for video clips to post on our website. Definitely great footage for the Documentary, too.

That night as we debriefed over a few rounds of drinks before Artie and I headed off to our room and the girls to theirs, we all felt really good about the Team, and the progress we were making in our plans to change the world. It would take a lot more time, but we were definitely headed in the right direction.

The next morning we were in the car heading back for the eight hour drive home. Well, actually Maya's home of course … but in my mind it really felt like I was going Home - the place where I belonged.

As I glanced in the rear view mirror at Artie and Jessica laughing about something he was showing her on his laptop, and then looked over at Maya behind the wheel, I felt this crazy rush of joy. I couldn't believe how lucky I was to have finally found a Team to share my mission and purpose and reason for living, after so many years of longing and working and dreaming alone.

I think I must have gone crazy for a moment. At least that's what I thought the second after I opened my mouth. The last thing I had wanted to do was to jeopardize this amazing reality I'd found.

"I just love our Team," I said out loud, unable to contain my thoughts an instant longer. It wasn't loud enough to disturb the younger members of our group in the back seat, but Maya smiled behind her sunglasses; a smile that could launch a thousand ships. And that's when I said what I instantly wanted to kick myself about. "I think I'm falling in love with you," I blurted.

Jessica and Artie suddenly stopped talking.

No one said a word.

The tension was so thick, I could barely breathe. I didn't dare look up at Maya.

© 2015 Robert Alan Silverstein
from The Better World Factory

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The Better World Show
The Reality Show That Will Change Reality

For the past 11 years, I've been wanting to create The Better World Show, a reality show that would inspire action for a better world and provide a way for millions to participate in real-time.

"The Better World Show: The Reality Show That Will Change Reality" would be an SNL-like variety show/reality show that would highlight the many efforts for a better world that are going on, often unseen, all around us, and inspire and empower action through humor, music and cutting-edge and engaging features.

I have hundreds of pages of notes on skits, next steps, a calendar of action, numerous vehicles within the Show and tons of offshoot-ideas. So, in a last ditch effort to try to make this happen before another 11 years go by, I'm putting out this call to either find a team to launch this webseries, or someone who might be interested in writing a series of novels with me based on this concept.

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The Better World Show:
The Reality Show That Will Change Reality

An SNL-like variety show/ reality show, inspiring and empowering a global movement for change in real-time.


Better World Factory
The off-beat behind the scenes exploits of a Team of dreamers, activist-actors and misfits working on The Better World Show webseries' vignettes of humorous skits, inspirational features and original music.

Better World Roadtrip: In Search of Utopia
A roadtrip across America highlighting people, places, organizations and ideas that are helping to create a more peaceful, just and sustainable world.

Better World Inc
Misadventures of employees in an Office-type setting working for a Corporation without any products or services but whose sole purpose is to create a more peaceful, just and sustainable world.

Better World 101
Sociology professor teaching from The Better World Handbook, gives his students a semester-long assignment to create a network of Better World Clubs on college campuses around the world and a webseries to inspire and empower the network they've created.

Better World News
A humorously satirical but inspiring take on current events unseen in traditional media outlets.

Better World Band
Music videos and behind the scenes exploits of musicians on tour, performing social-issue based songs.

Better World Girl
Shy dreamer has an alter-ego in her graphic novels about her hipster glasses, beret and scarf-wearing-heroine, The Better World Girl.

The Better World Couple
BetterWorldGuy and BetterWorldGirl engage in a youtube video duel to inspire action for a beter world.

Better World Heroes
A team of dreaming misfit superhero-wannabes embark on a fantastical quest of epic proportions to save the world.


© 2004-2015 Robert Alan Silverstein

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