Meet The Elders. They're great people. You know most of them.
Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Jimmy Carter (39th U.S. President), Muhammad Yunus (creator of micro-credit). Kofi Annan (former U.N. Secretary-General), Mary Robinson (Former UN High Commissioner of Human Rights), Peter Gabriel and Richard Branson of musical fame. Aung San Suu Kyi, elected prime minister of Burma, is the empty chair, and still the one many do not know. She is a prisoner in Rangoon, Burma.
According to Peter Gabriel, the Elders is a gathering of world leaders who come "together to support our 'global village.'" They exist on the basis that they can boldly say what needs to be said, both in public and behind closed doors, and what they think needs to be said is that there is much more to this world than military might and economic prowess. They advocate for the unheard, for human rights. Good folks doing good deeds. A group of these Elders just visited Israel/Palestine on one of its first visits.
Have you heard of them? Maybe? My suggestion is you should follow their words and their deeds. Evidently, Branson and Peter Gabriel, with whom I have done concerts with, thought a new group was needed and the two of them gave birth to the Elders. A good idea that could get better. I hope so.
Peter Gabriel's music and ideas are always worth listening to. He leads with both and gives of himself to both. Being one of his fans, I started thinking what we 'others' could do to help the Elders. Peter Gabriel always inspires and here is my idea patented after his: we need an adult group, a group who does good 'stuff' as well. But with a different mandate. While the Elders are appropriately international, I want to create a national body. If it works, then we create the backup body to the Elders. I call our group Adults, USA.
The Adults. First and only criterion to get into this special group is that you tell the truth all the time, like Jim Carrey in Liar Liar. You're ousted from The Adults when you fail to follow the only rule the Adults have. You need not say anything or do anything except to tell the truth. Remember Liar Liar; that is the model.
The Adults cover any subject that's longing for some good truth telling. Let me start with a few examples:
- Congressman Ron Paul. He has been an outspoken critic of American foreign and monetary policy. In the interest of truth, I have to admit I was a freshman/sophomore in the same high school with him as a junior/senior.
- Congressman Denis Kucinich spoke out publicly against the war in Iraq and attempted to get both Bush and Cheney impeached. Seen as odd at times but 'cool' to the rust belt folk.
- TV host Jon Stewart. Screams and points to the likes of CNN, Fox and MSNBC for their lack of journalistic integrity, especially around the Iraq war and the economic collapse.
- Bill Cosby as he outlines educational goals for children
- Muhammad Ali for opposing the Vietnam War and losing millions in revenue because of that objection.
- In The Valley of Elah, a filmatic omen of things to come. Paul Haggis became a seer.
- Dick Gregory telling us of truths and conspiracies for so many years. Comedic but always hunting the truth.
- Aung San Suu Kyi for being the Mandela of Asia and staying with her people
We've seen the likes of Lenny Bruce or Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove (or: How I learned to stop worrying and Love the Bomb). These are the people who keep credibility and tell it like it is. No angels, good citizens.
The Adults. We welcome bankers, financiers, Wall Street thugs, social climbers; we also welcome ex-prison inmates. Martha Stewart, you are welcome. Madoff...too soon. Only truth-tellers make up the directory.
And the Elders group has been telling us about the need for a return to decency and goodness in our world all along from their anonymous meeting room. American media broadcasters have begun to catch on. Torture is being debated, once in a while. We are starting to grow up and re-enter the world of truth. Rendition (moving people to other places to get tortured) might end. Secret prisons on the way out? Maybe we'll join the ranks of the Peruvians who sent their former President to jail for human rights abuses. Wow, hold on. Are we also going to be that courageous? Well, yes, because in the world of adults, truth is the determinator.
Now, let my adult side have a word: I am looking for a single standard for human rights in the U.S. policy. Yes, that simple and that clear. But really, this is what human rights are. A return to the fact that all citizens, yes, all, deserve the same basic human rights, even if we live in a part of the world that is the new target of the press and some governments. A truth whispered, some say, is louder than any gun barrel (from a movie).
Because you are an adult, you may not know your rights if asked, but you know if you have them. Some never can define justice, but they do know injustice. It is like the truth or a lie. We smell the difference.
You join The Adults when you tell the truth. You're out when you do not. No e-mail lists, no Twittering. No daily news briefs. No meetings. No trips. Just the, well, yes, just the truth. Rather than the home of the free and home of the brave, we become the home of the truth-tellers. Then these Adults can spread out from the U.S. to other nations and the United Nations perhaps? The Adult quota seems low in that building.
This group 'adults' might change the world. Truth-telling might even become an American daily exercise, just got to build up some stamina. We'll start one day at a time. It is up to you.
A good beginning would be reading the Constitution and U.S. Bill of Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. You will know then when others are lying too.