The Peace Child Internet Movie Musical – Story Summary
Lockdown Peace Child
– The Romance that Saved the World –
© Peace Child International : UK Registered Charity & USA 501[c] – April 2020
Opening Scene: Drop-dead gorgeous Canadian girl with beautiful voice sings: “When I was young, I never needed any one…” – the opening to Eric Carmen’s song: All by Myself! from her dorm room at McGill University in Montreal. Handsome young man sits in his shirt-sleeves in a small bedroom on a hot summer day above a deserted Moscow street, surfing the internet looking for live music feeds. He finds the girl and, as a clever internet hacker, he crashes her feed and starts singing harmonies with her. He’s very good: she’s unfazed by the hack and, at the modulation, allows him to take over. He sings his heart out to her, and she joins for the chorus harmonies. They smile, enjoying the connection.
“You’re good!” she says, “How did you hack into my feed?!” He explains he loves everything about the internet, and they get chatting. A student at McGill, she is a singer-songwriter who wants to be an international diplomat. He conceals the fact that he’s Russian for as long as possible – but when she starts talking climate change and the school strikes, protest rallies and prison vigils she’s sung at, he’s in awe:
“In my country, most people don’t give a shit about climate change! We release thousands of tons of methane gas into the atmosphere – and it’s so stupid. Because if only we could capture it and sell it to the Chinese – we could make a fortune out of it. So – we lose money and pollute at the same time!”
“We do worse – with the Tar Sands! – But hey, What is ‘your country?’ she asks. And he has to admit:
“So that’s why you’re such a great hacker…” She jokes. But he reminds her that it’s serious – not just climate change, but sea-level rise, the coming food crisis, the renewal of the nuclear arms race – not to mention the Coronavirus – which is a warning of the kind of pandemics which we are likely to face more of in the future.
“How many years do you think we’ve got?” she asks.
“Depends: if we start a nuclear war, it would all be over in 5-minutes. Business as usual, we might have 10- or 15-years. Baby steps towards a green economy would give us 20-30 years. A full-scale revolution, might give us to the end of the century…?
“So you don’t think humanity will be around a million years from now?”
“No chance…” he says. “What do you think?”
“I don’t know: someone asked that question in class the other day – and everyone agreed with you. ‘No chance!’ But I think you’re right: we’re the last generation who have the chance to turn things around. I wrote a song about it.”
She sings a snatch of World. Sasha listens, enrapt.
“That’s great! I’ve written a few myself, and I’m sure there are thousands – MILLIONS – of young people all over the world, cooped up in their bedrooms who feel exactly the same way….”
“How? – how do we get to them?!”
He looks at her: “What do you do for fun these days?”
“Dream! Dream about the parties I am missing – the holidays I’m not going on!”
“Wait!” he says: “Look straight at the camera – smile! Look like you’re having fun – swing your head like you’re dancing!”
He fiddles around feverishly on his computer. He kicks in a stupid song, like Macarena, then says:
He shows her a video of a woman lying on a beach in a bikini with her face superimposed, turning towards camera. She’s then having a drink at a bar by a pool – then she’s dancing wildly at a party.
“Gosh!” she says. “You are good!”
“We could create a Lockdown party site – all of us doing all the things we’re missing!”
“And we could weave our protest songs into it?!”
“Of course! Party! Protest! and Survive!” he suggests.
“Great title! And we can get students involved from all over the world!”
“Well – 30% of the student body here at McGill are from around the world. 150 countries!”
“Including Russia – China?”
“Thousands of Chinese! Some Russians, I’m sure! But think of it – a global movement created in lock-down, giving us all the opportunity to learn from each other just what our generational challenges are….”
“And write songs that tell us what we have to do to deal with them….”
“And party at the same time!” she says, “Digitally!”
“And – and!” he cries, “Learn how to build this green, sustainable economy that is going to make us so much money! – and make us a much, much happier, more prosperous, more equal human family.”
“The Green New Deal!”
“Is that what you call it?! Doesn’t matter: send me that song and I’ll put a promo site together.”
“With your song too!”
“It’s in Russian!”
“Then translate it! I’ll put it out on social media here – and we’ll get an organizing group together.”
“All song-writers, yes?”
“Of course! Party! Protest! and Survive!”
“Thank you! What’s your name, by the way?”
“Gail! What do I call you?”
“Sasha! Thank you for hacking into my feed!” He smiles – he’s besotted by her. He’s in love
* * *
Interlude: Gail sits in her room. There’s a ping on her computer – she goes over to it and brings up a message. It’s in Russian:
“Прости меня, я русский. Я непростительно романтичен!”
She clicks google translate. It comes up: “Forgive me, I’m Russian. I’m unforgivably romantic…” She clicks on the link – and the familiar video of Ed Sheeran’s Thinking out Loud comes up – but Sasha has superimposed her face on Brittany Cherry’s body – and his on Ed Sheeran’s. She watches it. Touched. All alone. She types back. “Thanks” – thinks, then adds: “Cпасиба”
* * *
Party! Protest! and Survive! – the Global Chatroom: The screen fills with a cacophony of screens and chattering voices. Several screens have two faces – song-writing duos. Gail mutes them and asks them to type in their home country as their name tag. Sasha brings up a map and red dot markers fill the screen:
“Check it out!” says Gail: “We have 39 countries present at this meeting. 109 people in all!”
The map fills with green dots. Sasha says:
“And people from 218 territories have enquired since the site went live last week!”
“We are the United Nations here! So – what are we going to do?”
“Save the Planet!” says Sasha.
“Sure, but how?” says Gail: “If you hold up your hand – I’ll unmute you. Or else send your thoughts through the Chat facility…”
Great gobs of ideas come vomiting over the airways – impossible for Gail and Sasha to manage. They scan the written posts and struggle to keep up with the spoken ideas:
“What’s that? Filipino? – hang on, say it again and I’ll translate…”
“OK!” says Gail – muting them all again: “We’re agreed on one thing. We want to hear a song. Now I want to play you Sasha’s song – not just because it is a brilliant translation of a wonderful poem by one of Russia’s most brilliant poets, but also because Sasha is one of the most extraordinary video editors I’ve ever come across – and he has spliced together footage of a ballet company doing an incredible dance number to his song. And he can do the same for all our songs!”
Sasha explains that the song is based on a couple of poems by Yevtushenko in which he claims that, if you stop protesting, you’re dead. “You have to keep protesting to keep alive – to keep active…” He plays a section of the song, Revolt – which comes up in an extraordinary kaleidoscope of dance, and colourful images of protest marches – Martin Luther King, Lenin, Schools Strike 4 Climate, Black Lives Matter etc. As it ends – Gail insists that they will mount, and index, all the songs – and grade them by the number of views and likes.
An African girl calls a halt and asks: “What’s the endgame here? Just to sing a few songs to ourselves and party? Or are we actually going to get out there and try to change something??”
Hundreds of hands wave, and Gail unmutes everybody to a cacophonous roar of “Do Something!” There are a ton of ideas – but a young boy from Costa Rica cuts through with the line:
“Let’s celebrate the UN’s 75th Birthday!”
Gail picks up on it.
“I didn’t know it was the UN’s 75th Birthday?!”
“Let’s throw them a digital birthday party!” says Sasha.
“Party! Protest! and Survive!” says Gail! Hundreds of hands wave in agreement.
* * *
Interlude: Gail and Sasha are really beat listening to songs, watching videos.
“Some of these are soooo crap!” says Gail.
“How are we going to tell them?”
“We’ll count the likes.”
“Some have thousands of likes,” says Sasha miserably. “These guys have no taste!”
“So we curate it!”
“That’s not very democratic!”
“Life isn’t.” There’s a ping on her computer. She reads: “Oh look! The UN Secretary General has agreed to record a speech for our UN Digital Birthday Concert!”
“We got him, so we can decide the content! Are we agreed? Songs from every continent?”
“In every UN language?”
“All new? All written and performed by young people under 30?”
“No Celebrities! No politicians! – and we address one problem / one solution between each song!”
“Now they can be chosen democratically,” says Gail.
“But we get to choose each song! A song that matches each solution!” They raise their fists to their screens in agreement.
* * *
The Online UN Birthday Concert: The UN Festival is part Live Aid / Part David Attenborough’s Living Earth and Part the worst horror film you’ve ever seen. It starts with a colourful animation of a family in an earth-shaped car, hurtling towards a cliff edge, with Grandpa asleep at the wheel – and the children screaming from the back-seat. One of the kids dives over and grabs the wheel – while another dives down and slams on the brakes. The car screeches to a stop just before it goes over the edge. The passengers get out and look back the way they’ve come. Sasha and Gail appear on screens either side of the central screen – with other participants ranged around the edge, thus:
“We’ve been heading down the wrong road for far too long,” says Gail. “Our generation has to grab the wheel, slam on the brakes, and get us on to the right road.”
“A road that leads to peace, sustainability and well-being for all,” says Sasha: “ We can make sooooo much more money if we invest in renewables – live sustainably – and take the right road….”
“And – that’s what we’re going to show you today! As we celebrate this great old organisation’s 75th Birthday – we don’t want you thinking that the UN is Grandpa. Far from it! The UN has been trying to drive us in the right directions all its life – but some of the bozos at the wheel have not been listening.
“Now they have to: we have millions of them – and you – signed up to listen and learn. We shall hear from the Head of the UN later – but first, we’re going to hear, from you, the priority concerns of young people.”
“Each concern has been selected after long discussions and research by young people from over 200 countries: our generation!” says Gail, “Because face it: we’ve got a whole lot more years left to hang out on this planet than most of the old drivers currently clinging on to the wheel. So, as they drop out of the picture, we need to be sure that we’re good and ready – well-informed and fully committed – to solve each of those concerns so that, when we get behind the wheel, we can drive us all towards a sustainable future.”
“But guys! We don’t have much time. This change must start NOW – today!”
“Yesterday!! Otherwise, the good old UN won’t make it to its 100th Birthday. And our generation could lose half its number before we get to pension age….”
“It’s that serious! Tell ‘em Yoshi…”
A young Japanese girl introduces the first issue: Climate Change! Over a song from Latin America, we see images of the Amazon Rain Forest – the incredible biodiversity, the random destruction – going on down through the pampas to the Andes and on to the Antarctic. Key datasets – on rain-forest destruction, Antarctic ice-melt projections, sea-level rise; weather disruptions etc. It’s all brilliantly clear.
And then the solutions – drawn from the best think tanks: in the USA – the Solutions Project, Post Carbon and Rocky Mountain Institutes & the DiCaprio Foundation; in Russia, the Academy of Sciences; CEEP in China, TERI in India, Mercator Institute in Germany + UNEP, the Red Cross, IUCN and others. These show – in simple, direct ways – with animations, jokes, mime acts, cartoons – how each solution will make more money, more jobs and more sustainable prosperity for the human family than continuing on the current path. The screen fills with tens of thousands of images of people of all nationalities – clapping and cheering as each section is completed.
Each section is dictated by priorities selected by young people themselves: recent polling data would suggest that the top six, currently, are:
1) Climate and the environment;
2) Less poverty and inequality leading to equal access to basic services;
3) A world without racism, with gender equity, without any kind of discrimination;
4) Reduction in armed conflict and violence, leading to a more peaceful, collaborative world;
5) Everyone’s human rights protected including in the digital space – and –
6) Greater trust between people and governments.
The songs are mostly newly composed – but could include some old favorites in new formats: like a multi-lingual version of the Beatles, All you need is Love. A Peace Child song written by 16-year old from Poland, We want this world to survive for ever, introduces a speech from the man charged with ensuring that it does: the UN Secretary-General. He gives the speech that he gave to the UN General Assembly on Peace Day, outlining the UN’s Agenda for the next 25 years requesting the help of every member of the human family.
The concert ends with Sasha and Gail appealing for friendship – for collaboration.
“Most of us are here because our parents fell in love enough to want to bring children into the world. Love is what drives all of us. Friends here in Canada wonder how I can work with a Russian to create this concert – but he’s great! I don’t care about his nationality – and he doesn’t care about mine! We’re working together to say a BIG Happy Birthday to the organization that has done more than any other to bring peace to our world. So Happy Birthday, UN! Happy Birthday planet! And let us all remember that we’ve come this far by loving and living at peace with each other. And we shall only overcome the obstacles we’ve talked about tonight if we continue to love each other and intensify our collaboration. Let us all believe in each other – and believe in our ability to do so!
They sing: I believe – a rousing, spirit-lifting gospel number – which emphasizes belief in humanity and the planet as much as a belief in God. Any God, that is – not a specific God, Christian, Hindu, Muslim or other.
* * *
TV Interlude: Gail and Sasha are hauled on to a TV Talk show from their bedroom studios. The Talk Show host introduces them as the pair who got ten million hits for their UN Birthday concert – in which they called for the oil industry to be wound up.
“As you can imagine,” says the Talk Show Host, “Several senior leaders of the oil industry were quite upset by your remarks – and want to challenge them.”
A succession of sharp-suited male and female oil company executives fire questions at the two of them – which, rather than answering one-by-one, Sasha and Gail take down and promise to answer at the end. Which they do – quietly, brilliantly and forensically – yet with sympathy and respect. The talk show host thanks them. The Oil executives are left feeling like criminals, guilty of the murder of the younger generation.
* * *
Confronting Failure – The Party! Protest! and Survive! De-brief: On their own again, Gail and Sasha congratulate each other.
“I can’t believe you do all that in your second language!”
“My third language! Uzbek is my mother tongue – and my Russian is much better than my English!”
“You are amazing!”
“So are you.”
“No really: you were so sympathetic, so generous with them – while all the time you were skewering them with your logic. You really are a wonderful human being!”
“I can’t believe we’ve never met. I feel I’ve known you my whole life…”
“This isn’t about us,” says Sasha. “We must face the others: we have to own up to them. All our efforts are not going to change a thing. The Concerts – the TV Shows – the news broadcasts: they are pin-pricks when what you need is a bloody great jack hammer to get into the heads of your political leaders.”
“You tell them, Sasha: I’ll back you up – and I have a few ideas. But it’s a pretty bold move to start the de-brief from one of the most successful live-streamed concerts ever with an admission of failure…”
That’s what he does, kicking off a vigorous debate around the world. Ideas pour in for better strategies:
“We have to re-launch the School Strike 4 Climate as a 24/7, 100%, all-out strike!”
“No way!” says a Dane, “Just as we get out of lock-down – we suggest another?! Never happen!”
Another suggests: “Sue ‘em! Take the governments to court for failing to protect the planetary assets essential to our generation’s future survival. We have to prosecute the ‘Intergenerational crime’ they are committing!”
An Australian radical says: “I vote we go one better: hit them where it really hurts! Close down their financial markets! Introduce a virus that disables their computer systems. You must know how to do that, Sasha?!”
“I do – but sorry: I don’t really want to start a war here” Sasha says.
“We should stick to the principals of non-violence,” says Gail.
An African tells them of an online conversation he had with a cousin of his who works at the UN who told him: “There are 3 x UNs: the main government one; the Secretariat; – and – you guys! The People – the NGOs, the Civil Society organisations. And I asked him – what about the one we’re using now: the Digital UN? We the Peoples… – ALL the peoples connected through the Internet.”
“But that’s just the point,” says Sasha: “We’re NOT all connected. It’s – what? – 56% of us connected at the moment?”
“That’s still more than half
“ – and it’s growing by the day!”
“There are more smart phones per capita in Africa than anywhere else in the world!” says the young African. “We can reach to every village in the continent…”
“There’s millions yet to be connected in the Far East and South Asia…”
“But it’s coming,” says Gail: “And the idea of a FOURTH UN that can over-ride the decisions of governments would be brilliant.”
“Everyone would want to be connected to that,” says a Chinese boy. “But I’m almost sure my government would not allow it…”
“Surely you can get around their jamming software, can’t you?” asks Sasha.
“Difficult! – and dangerous!” he says.
“I think you’d find that every government in the world would want to shut down that idea before it ever got started….” says a young German.
“Doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try it,” says a young Turkish woman.
And so they talk the idea back and forth, arguing the pros and cons – but it quickly becomes apparent that this is the only idea that has legs, chiefly because it’s the young people’s own medium. They are all digital natives – where the elders are digital immigrants. Furthermore, they can build it themselves and it will cost them almost nothing. The question if it will actually be able to “over-ride the decisions of governments…” is not relevant at the outset because what they want, initially, is a medium that can unite peoples! And once they are united, ALL governments – whether democracies, autocracies or dictatorships – would find it very hard to block the wishes of the United Peoples of the Planet!
* * *
Interlude: Gail and Sasha relax into another of their late-night chats:
“How long will it take you?” asks Gail
“Building the Digital UN?”
“It’s not a question of ‘How long?’ – it’s more a question of ‘Who?’ Who should build it?”
“Us – surely? Because we can…!”
“Well I’ve been thinking about that. It would be smart to get some governments onside – and some of the immensely rich, immensely clever IT companies helping. Sure – I could chuck something together – but it would have no political validity. And, I’m thinking: we should have something else in place first….”
“Well – you know what you said: ‘No wonder you’re such a good hacker…’ That’s what everyone thinks: Russians are hacking the internet all the time trying to spy on business, disrupt elections, steal data. I’m sure that some Russians are doing that – but we are far from the only ones. There’s no police to govern the internet because there are very few laws to govern the internet. The UN’s good old 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights doesn’t say a thing about it because the Internet didn’t exist back then! And we need it to be updated because, until then, it’s the Wild West out there in digi-land!”
“Of course! A UDHR 2.0 – for the digital age. Before any one starts building a Digital UN – we must have those rights and protections in place, otherwise the Facebooks, and Cambridge Analytica’s of this world are going to buy, borrow and steal every particle of data about every single one of us and the whole thing is going to be corrupted before it starts!”
“Exactly! But the governments – and the UN – know that too. They desperately want to be seen to be doing something about this. My government too! So – if we get together a group of top programmers and lawyers from Social Media companies + some of us, and a few key government and UN advisors, and, together, we draft a UDHR 2.0, don’t you think they would be grateful to us for taking the initiative.”
“And we’d get a foot in the door! And then we could start to build a Digital UN safely! “
“Well we can start gathering views right now. We’ve got the lists, especially of young people.”
“So who do we tell about this? Should we keep a lid on it – until we have something concrete to show?”
“Yes! I’ll send you a position paper – outlining the things I think we need to cover – and you have a word with your friend in Palo Alto and see who he knows who’s working on this kind of thing in Silicon Valley. We only need a couple. Meanwhile, I’ll put out feelers to my government and the diplomatic community here in Moscow and see where I get.”
“I will be – but you have no idea what status you and the UN have given me here!”
“You’re so worth it!”
“Thank you. When’s your lockdown lifting?”
“They lifted it once – and then they had that second wave! So – it could be another month.”
“I can’t wait to meet you!”
“Perhaps in California?!” [Music Begins]
* * *
UDHR 2.0 Negotiations: The Peace Child anthem: Child for a day plays under as very complex issues are batted back and forth across Zoom meetings. Sheaves of paper pour out of printers; detailed texts are shared on the screens –as we watch the Working Group discuss and debate different versions of the Digital Rights Declaration argued over, some of the older men getting very passionate, shaking their fists at the computer screens. Sasha, Gail and the other youth remain very calm: the phrase “200 firewalls to each individual’s data…” comes up in red on the screen. Several gentlemen and one lady diplomat get very exercised about that – until someone inserts the word “FREE” ahead of it – and then everyone calms down.
Phrases like “100% encryption” – and “digital footprint” – “GDPR” – “cross jurisdiction” “base translations” and other key terms flash across the screen. Very exercised people argue the toss back and forth. Sasha, Gail and some of the other youths speak when they are spoken to – but spend most of their time sending private messages via the chat facility to individual members of the working group. On the screens, a nod acknowledges their help. Like Svengalis, they appear to be controlling the whole process from the sidelines – but the older members of the negotiating group seem very happy to have them there and often the chairperson calls on them to review a text on the screen. Which they do – sometimes referring to other members of their team.
Finally – a text appears to have been agreed. A computer arrow hovers over: “Send” They all nod. The document is sent. From their screens on gallery view – they all wave their hands as they cannot shake them.
Interlude: A message flashes up on Sasha’s screen – he wakes immediately, goes to his computer and reads:
“Call me the minute you get this: any time of the day or night!” He sits and calls her:
“What’s up?” he asks as a sleepy-faced Gail appears on screen.
“Lockdown in New York is lifting – the UN’s opening up, and or UNDHR 2.0 has passed the 3rd Committee so is going for final signature in the GA in a couple of weeks – and my ambassador just called to say that we’ll be invited!”
“Well done us! Well done all of us!”
“So – we get to speak in the UN General Assembly?! Do you think we should go?!”
“Wouldn’t it be more sustainable to speak by Zoom – like we’ve always done. That way we could include more of us…”
“I can’t believe you’d pass up a chance to speak at the UN GA. Anyway – I want to meet you, finally!”
“Of course I want to meet you too. But – we have to walk the talk, don’t you think?”
“Oh shit! Why do you always have to be right? The optics are all wrong – and would be all right if we did it via the internet. I’ll just have to get used to you being my digital lover on the other side of the ocean!”
“I can see it now – the PR pictures of tens of thousands of people up the backwall of that UN General Assembly. It would BE the Digital UN. And then I’ll get a ship from St Petersburg – and sail up the St Lawrence Seaway and claim you like a pirate!”
“And we’ll go to Silicon Valley and build the Digital UN!”
“Sounds like a plan! I love you, Sasha.”
“I love you too, Gail….”
* * *
Lockdown Lifted: Some of the PPS group have put together a new digital dance video to a song celebrating the lifting of the Lockdown. It comes to an end – and waves of applause are heard – and seen – around the world, indicated on a World Map to show where people are listening in. Gail mutes them and announces the news that their UDHR 2.0 has been passed by the UN – and that they have been invited to address the UN General Assembly and be thanked by the UN Member Governments.
“This is our chance, guys! We can launch the Digital UN right there – and present our ‘Asks’ directly to the governments that need to act upon them. We’ve got two weeks to decide what those asks should be – and to get the Digital UN signed up in support of them.”
She throws open the chat-room and unmutes the feeds: a torrent of suggestions flood in. Sasha kills it:
“Seems like most of you are happy to go with the Asks we made at the Birthday Concert, “ he says, “– with a big bunch asking for stronger links to the SDGs…”
“Can we put that to a vote?!”
Many hands are raised on the screens. Thousands of green dots flash across the World Map, with only a handful flashing red.
“OK – so we’ll get a draft based on the Concert texts – and make those more intentional links to the SDGs. Let’s get the translations done, and the text approved in 48-hours – and then go get the billion signatures.”
“3.4 Billion,” says a Chinese kid in Hong Kong.
“No governments can ignore the wishes of half the human population,” adds a Mexican.
“Wait!” cries an Indian: “We’re doing this by the internet, aren’t we? What if they just switch us off?”
“They wouldn’t do that,” says Sasha, “And anyway – Gail’s going to be there!”
“I’m going down by train from Montreal.”
“They could do anything,” remarks a Frenchman, “They’ve asked you there to tick a box, not to make demands on them. Be prepared.”
* * *
Interlude: Gail and Sasha lie in their beds indulging in a little online pillow talk.
“I never knew you were such a brilliant writer…” says Sasha.
“I’m not! I just tidied up the English of the original asks and added a few references to the SDGs. It’s what we call ‘wordsmithing’…”
“It’s what I call poetry. And it’s great, Gail – ‘cos all those old UN documents, they were poetic in their way: “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and to promote better standards of life in larger freedom…” Your words are up there with them – and I have tried to match their poetry in Russian.”
“It’s a good job we started this with song-writers: we’re all poets after a fashion!”
“That’s what worries me: poets are butterflies – always crushed under the jackboot of politicians.”
“Not in a peaceful green economy! Poets will be the oxygen of the economy – writers, artists, composers – we are the lifeblood of the planet. We give life meaning!”
“Yeah – but Abdul is right: they could just switch us off. They have that power. We don’t.”
“They do – but they won’t,” says Gail. “And anyway, I’ll be there – and I’ll have you there on my cell – so together we’ll figure out a way to make it happen….”
* * *
UN General Assembly Presentation: The UN General Assembly appears on screen and slowly fills up with the “Million Face Montage” logo that the Core Team have prepared for the Digital UN. The UN Secretary-General thanks and praises them for their work in delivering the UDHR 2.0 and invites Gail to the Podium. She carries Sasha on her cell-phone and balances it on the podium so that he can broadcast her PoV of the General Assembly delegates watching her. Sasha does a brilliant job of live-editing the video feed to include Gail speaking, the delegates watching, and video clips which explain why their ‘Asks’ are so important.
But the government representatives do NOT like what they are being forced to listen to. It is NOT what they expected when they offered the young people a courtesy slot at the GA. Gail comes to the bit where she calls for an immediate transition to a green, sustainable economy, and the criminalisation of the use of fossil fuels. This is too much for some government representatives. Several stand up, waving their country place cards to get the S-G’s attention and get him to call a halt to the speech.
“These requests are without procedural authority!” cries one.
Gail continues, calling for global taxes to pay for global safety nets that ensure the SDG goal to “Leave No one Behind!” is achieved through a guaranteed Universal Basic Income for all.
“These young people are abusing our courtesy!” cries another
“Who gave these people the right to make these asks of us?!” cries a third.
“We the Peoples…” smiles Gail, continuing with their “Asks” for Health for All, Food for All, Quality Education for all…
“Point of Order!” says the Canadian Ambassador.
The S-G strikes his gavel, stopping Gail mid-sentence.
“I have to take this,” says the S-G. He looks at the Ambassador: “Your point, Excellency?”
“I simply want to echo the feelings expressed by my colleagues that listening to this laundry list of requests is a waste of our time, and the energies of these brilliant young people. It is a meeting to mark our nations agreement to a landmark piece of Digital Human Rights legislation, not a meeting to request ‘Universal Basic Income for all.”
“I would think it simple courtesy to listen to what they want to say within the time we allowed them, especially given the broadcast nature of the meeting.”
“But this organization operates according to accepted protocols, Your Excellency, not courtesies. I request that you put my Point of Order motion to cut short this speech to a vote.”
“Seconded!” cry a large number of delegates.
The S-G hangs his head, breathing “Sorry!” to Gail.
“All those in Favor?” he asks: a vast majority of hands go up.
“Motion carried. I suggest we take a short break and re-convene for the other Agenda items in 15-minutes. Meanwhile, I would ask you to join me in applauding the work of these young people who engineered the UDHR 2.0 for us.” There’s some desultory applause as the delegates get up to leave. The S-G claps loudly, smiling his thanks and apologies to Gail as he makes to leave.
“Can we talk about this?” asks Gail. She follows him into his private study at the back of the GA.
* * *
Interlude – The S-G’s private study: The UN S-G stands in the centre of the room, flanked by the President of the General Assembly, some staffers and some blue-uniformed security officers:
“Again, I can only offer my apologies.”
“They gave us 10-minutes – I had only spoken for 4 – and you knew we’d planned a song to end.”
“I’m sorry. What you experienced is what I experience every day: that this is an organization run by We the Governments…. Not We the Peoples…..”
“I understand that, and in this building, you can switch off our feed. But, outside it, you cannot switch off the feelings of a majority of the members of the human family whom your member governments seek to govern. What feedback are you getting, Sasha?”
“Outrage, of course,” says Sasha via the cell-phone. “I’m seeing hundreds of calls for a return to the lockdown – ‘Sue the buggers!’ – all that. I don’t think we’ll be able to contain it….”
“We didn’t come here looking for confrontation, Excellency: we came for your support! We have to work with governments, not against them. You are the key part of the solution to the challenges we face as a human family, but if you refuse to sit down with us and help us co-create and implement those solutions, what option do we have but to refuse to co-operate with you?”
“So what are you asking?” says the S-G.
“Approve the idea of a Digital UN,” says Sasha. “Get your government members to accept the idea of a parallel UN driven by We the Peoples… – proposing and approving legislation to solve global problems.”
“Helping governments to get the SDGs done,” says Gail, “ – alerting the UN to majority concerns, just as your Global Conversation tried to do – but this would be continuous and universal – harnessing the incredible power of the internet as it grows and spreads into every nook and cranny of our Life on Earth.”
“Or else?” asks the S-G.
“I think you know the answer to that, Excellency!” says Gail.
“We shall have every kid back in lockdown, every school and university closed in 24-hours. And we won’t go back to our studies until you agree to recognize the Digital UN and talk to us. Because if your government members are not even prepared to TALK to us about solving the problems that we all know we’re going to have to face in our lifetimes, what’s the point of going to school to learn about anything else?”
“We’re going to be alive in 50 years’ time and dealing with these problems – when most of those diplomats out there, are going to be dead.”
“Not necessarily your most persuasive point,” says the President of the General Assembly, “but what you’re asking is for us to set up a Digital Consultation on the SDGs, with a focus on your specific ‘Solutions’?
“Yes! – with others as they come up,” says Gail
“And context-specific solutions for different countries and regions…” adds Sasha.
“Understood,” says the GA President, “but you want us to host or engage in this digital consultation in the same way that we did the Global Conversation to achieve consensus on priority actions to achieve the SDGs. I think such a motion would find favor with most member states, don’t you Excellency.”
“It would probably have to go back to the 3rd Committee, and member states would likely demand time to consult with their capitals, but we could set the process in motion today.”
“And avoid ugly headlines in the press tomorrow morning,” says the GA President.
“Shall we propose that, then?” asks the S-G. Gail smiles.
“I would only say,” adds Sasha, “that – unlike the Global Conversation – we want governments to engage with us. The Digital UN includes them – it’s all of us – all faiths, all ethnicities, all nationalities, all professions, all genders and, of course, all generations.”
“Multi-stakeholder!” says Gail
“We the Peoples… – to coin a phrase!” smiles the S-G. “Let’s go get this ball rolling…”
* * *
Back to the GA: The S-G makes a little speech to the General Assembly about his consultation with the young initiators of the UDHR 2.0 – and has agreed to put a motion to Delegates requesting permission to set up a digital consultation mechanism to support UN initiatives like the SDGs with all the protections that the UDHR 2.0 provides. “The UDHR 2.0 team have offered to fund it, so can we agree to start that process? All those in Favour?” Hands are raised, but without much enthusiasm.
“Thank you! And now, I’d like to offer delegates a rare experience of We the Peoples…. of this planet singing, digitally, in harmony for the future we all want…”
On screens around the GA chamber, the Million Face Montage bursts into song, singing: We want this world to survive for ever. The Song continues as a montage of images show young people getting down to work on the SDGs, destroying guns, disabling weapons, moth-balling fighter planes and submarines. It also shows Sasha sailing the Atlantic, hugging Gail as he walks off the gangplank in Montreal – walking together, hand-in-hand, into a crowded Lecture Hall at McGill University – to the cheers of the student body. As the song ends, they reach the stage, and turn and face the crowd. Again – they hug. Freeze Frame.
Credits Roll – as Gail and Sasha dance to Ed Sheeran’s Thinking out loud – replicating the dance that Sasha digitized inserting their faces on the original. This time, it’s for real. Together at last.
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T H E E N D
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WHAT IS AN INTERNET MUSICAL ?
A movie made on the Internet where the “Stage” is each cast member’s bedroom. The cast will remain in their home countries with only the two protagonists meeting when – IF – it becomes possible to film the final scenes in New York and Montreal. Otherwise these scenes too will be created online.
Casting & Rehearsals: An outline script will be written, and the cast will be selected as much for their knowledge of global issues and experience of activism as for their performance abilities. The cast will review the script together in English, making suggestions – improvising online with each other until they are comfortable with the overall story and each scene within it. Professional script-writers will then tidy it up and submit the final script for rehearsal by video-conference.
Different Versions for Different Markets: The cast will be chosen from each of the major broadcast markets so that, if desired later, the script can be adjusted so that the two protagonists can be swapped around. For example – for the US, an American would replace the Canadian; for a German language version – a German could replace the Canadian, and there could be a German-Speaking Russian; for the China market, there would be a Chinese lead with a Chinese-speaking Canadian so the whole thing can be done in Chinese; etc. The basic English version will be cast, rehearsed and filmed first – with the option for production partners to make their own versions later to maximize the profit potential in each market.
Principle Photography: Cast members will be issued with small, HD video-cameras to record their bits watched and guided by the movie director and lighting cameraman. Each bit will be uploaded to a central recording / editing / production facility. For the scenes with the actors playing the two protagonists, and some other group scenes, multiple recordings will be taken at the same time as the cast watch each other on Zoom software and respond to each other.
Basic Multi-Screen: an Internet Movie is necessarily multi-screen – though this will vary throughout from single image screens, to tableaux similar to a Zoom “Gallery-view,” to Triptychs, to a Kaleidoscope montage for some of the dance numbers.
Promotion and Distribution: Like any other “Movie” – the Lockdown Peace Child looks to become an ‘Event Movie’ – getting headline billing at Film Festivals, marketing its low budget credentials like the Blair Witch Project, and also limited release in movie theatres before coming back to its natural home as an online, streamed movie. The producers will seek to maximise the viewings of the original version of the movie in English – before encouraging the….
“Make Your Own Movie” Opportunities: The Internet is choc-full of online choirs and games where individuals and groups perform together online from multiple locations, adding new voices as they develop. This internet movie intends to expand those opportunities geometrically – empowering individual young people by enabling them to –
- Translate the movie instantly into a version with sub-titles in their own language;
- Add their own visuals and voices to songs, their own dialogue to scenes, and their own dance moves to the kaleidoscope dance numbers by numbering all video channels used in the online edit – and enabling home video makers to replace one of the channels with their own, synchronised feed.
- Insert speeches, song solos, lead dance moves etc. So, for example, in the scenes at the United Nations any young person can organise for themselves to give the climactic speech to the General Assembly.
- They will also be able to add key scenes and dialogue moments that allow audience members to introduce new ideas and context-specific concerns to the dialogue.
The result? Thousands of different, individually-created versions of the movie that young people can create and be totally empowered by, through showing their version to their families and/or class-mates.
The Educational Possibilities? Teachers will, finally, have an upbeat, entertaining story with which to introduce and educate their pupils about the realities of climate change. As for all previous Peace Child shows, lesson plans will be created giving teachers step-by-step instructions for how, using the movie as the linking story, they can introduce their pupils at different age levels to the complex science of climate change and the manner in which their generation can create a green, sustainable economy. Further, of course, the Peace Child play exists in several different stage versions and is available to be re-written, translated, adapted and performed by schools across the world as a school play. In these versions, students are encouraged to play characters that bear their own names, so they feel total ownership of the story.
The dangers? Extreme views and/or offensive language: some of these dangers can be reduced or eliminated entirely by net-nurse software – but well-argued dialogue by climate change denier groups or exploitation of the scenes to peddle extremist points-of-view may not be so easy to delete. Much of this input can provide interest and notoriety to the movie – expanding its appeal and online footfall. However, any producer who takes on this radical, innovative approach to movie-making has to be well aware of the dangers going in – and take careful steps to eliminate incendiary input from undesirable groups.
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IF this is the Pilot, what is the Series?
The Millions of young people who followed Greta Thunberg out on to the Streets for the Schools Strike 4 Climate last year + the March for Our Lives, Black Lives Matter, and the general dissatisfaction with the current, mostly terrible, crop of political leaders, shows that young people are ready to Party, Protest and Survive. In partnership with the UN, Peace Child Intl. plans to produce a new show each year on UN Day: Oct. 24th .
A 5-Year Plan: Each year, a different script will be written to address a different critical issue. Each will be will be different genre: this year, a romance; another year, it could be a comedy; as we come out of lockdown – there could be an action adventure; another could be a global road trip etc. And one of them could follow the Peace Child format of a story, set in the future, with the problems solved, telling how the problem was solved by back-casting to the present day. Each will address a specific, world-threatening issue and weave into their story the best available thinking for how solutions can be achieved. Thus –
ONE:- Halting & Reversing Climate Change: Climate activists always tell us that “We have the technology to build a green economy…” They promote Green New Deals to accomplish it – but Obama’s failure to deliver his version demonstrates how hard this is. Young people are in this for the long-haul so start by stopping global warming – the problem, while at the same time testing potential solutions. Realistically!
TWO:- Achieving Peace and Disarmament: There is no prosperity while people are killing each other. And a single nuclear bomb could do more damage to the climate than a dozen Exxon-Mobils. The UN has tried – and usually failed – to negotiate Peace Deals for many ways. This tells the plausible story of how we might!
THREE:- Eliminating Poverty: The UN’s SDGs are set to eliminate extreme poverty by 2030. They won’t! But the teen-agers of today might – if they get started right away on a whole host of problems: environment – poverty is the biggest polluter! Economics – inequality is built in to current systems. Etc. VERY HARD!
FOUR:- Health for All: The Current Pandemic is an example of what Hans Rausing, a Swedish futurist, called the biggest threat faced by humanity. Covid-19 is relatively benign: it only kills 1-2% of those it infects. Ebola kills up to 90%. Young people need to know how to protect themselves against future pandemics. This story will show them how to build the health systems that do just that.
FIVE:- LOVE: Every major religion, all world-renowned philosophers and thinkers instruct us to ‘love each other…’ As a human family, we mostly have not. But we did in the sixties and many young people today feel that they do – chatting across frontiers of politics and language to connect, make music and socialize. That is the new normal: so how can we infrastructuralize that love between all countries, cultures, economies, ethnicities and generations? This story shows how young people lead the way to Unite Nations by first creating fool-proof ways to Unite Peoples.
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