Book 5. Who are we? (2001)
The disarmament race
An international congress was held, with delegates from the security councils of the military blocs of various countries and continents, to work out a plan for the emergency conversion of military hardware and ammunition. Scientists from different parts of the world exchanged their expertise. Psychologists kept appearing in the media in an effort to head off panic among a population possessing a considerable variety of firearms. Panic had broken out after news of the Russian phenomenon had been leaked to the media, and the facts had become somewhat distorted.
A number of Western news sources were reporting that Russia had launched an emergency programme to convert all the ammunition on its territory and at a designated hour would be blowing up the ammunition reserves held by other nations, destroying a large part of their population in the process. People began disposing of their firearms and ammunition in rivers, or burying them in wasteland sites, since the official conversion centres could not keep up with the demand.
Heavy fines were levied for unauthorised conversion. And even the fact that independent ‘brokerage firms’ started charging huge sums for each bullet or shell they accepted did not deter the flood of people wishing to escape from something that threatened the lives of whole families. People living in cities situated in the proximity of military bases demanded the authorities immediately get rid of all military facilities. But the arms industry, which had now been reoriented toward the conversion of the very products it had
previously manufactured, was working to the limits of its capacity.
In many Western countries the press began circulating a flurry of rumours to the effect that Russia was threatening the world with disaster. The world was not in a position to free itself from its accumulation of armaments so quickly, and even though conversion plants were operating at full tilt, it was impossible for them to destroy in a few months a stock of arms that had been accumulating over decades.
Accusations were made that the Russian government had known for some time about the existence of children with unusual abilities, and that it had long been preparing for the conversion of deadly weapons. To back up this claim, it was noted that the Russian government had been buying up and dismantling ecologically unsound enterprises — not just on its own soil but in neighbouring countries as well. And that if Russia could become the first to rid its territory of explosive armaments, it would also be able to destroy nations that were lagging behind in the disarmament race.
All sorts of destructive scenarios of an impending world disaster and its consequences were deliberately exaggerated in the media. This was quite advantageous for companies involved in conversion, escalating the price of their services. Anyone handing in bullets from a handgun, for example, was obliged to pay twenty dollars for each bullet. Unauthorised burial or disposal of a weapon was treated as a criminal act. Another source of panic was the lack of proposals for any real defence against the abilities which had come to light in certain Russian children.
The Russian President then took what seemed to all to be a desperate and ill-conceived action: he decided to go live before the world’s TV cameras in the company of children with extraordinary abilities. And on the appointed day and hour practically the whole planet gathered in front of their TV sets to hear what the Russian President had to say
In advance of the broadcast many factories stopped, stores closed, streets emptied — all eyes were focused on Russia. The President wanted to calm people’s fears and show the whole world that the newly-emerging generation of young Russians were not bloodthirsty monsters, but kind, ordinary children, whom there was no reason to fear.
To appear even more convincing, the President asked his advisers to invite thirty children with extraordinary abilities to the Kremlin, proposing to remain alone with these children in his office during the broadcast. All this was carried out as he requested.
“And what did the Russian President have to say to the world?” I asked Anastasia.
“If you like, you can watch this scene for yourself and listen to what he said, Vladimir.”
“I’d like that very much.”
“So take a look and see.”
The Russian President stood on a small podium next to his desk. On either side of the podium sat children of varying ages, from about three to ten years old. On the opposite side of the room were arrayed a group of correspondents and a flock of TV cameras. The President began speaking.
“Ladies and gentlemen! My fellow-citizens! I have specially invited these children to meet you. As you can see, I am with them here alone, with no bodyguards or psychologists or parents. These children are not monsters, as some Western media are attempting to portray them. You can see for yourselves that these are just ordinary children. There are no signs of aggressiveness in their faces or actions. Some of their abilities we regard as unusual. But are they really? It is quite possible that the abilities which have begun to reveal themselves in the rising generation are entirely normal for
the human individual. Our own creations, on the other hand, may turn out to be inimical to human existence. The human commonwealth has created a communications system and military potential capable of fomenting global disaster.
“Peaceful negotiations between states possessing the greatest military potential have gone on for centuries, yet the arms race has still not ceased. Today we have a real opportunity to do away with this endless destructive process. Today the countries in the most advantageous position are those that do not have a concentration of deadly weapons on their territories.
“We tend to think of such a situation as unnatural. But let us ponder the question of why, on the other hand, the production of life-destroying weapons which now threaten whole nations, has ever seemed natural to the human commonwealth, and why such a conviction is so deeply rooted in our consciousness.
“The children of the new generation have changed our pri-orities, causing us to take steps in the opposite direction — namely, disarmament. The fear and panic and feverish activity surrounding this process are largely due to a misrepresentation of the facts. The Russian government has been accused of knowing for a long time about the extraordinary abilities of children in our country. Such accusations are unfounded. Up until now a huge military potential has been present on Russian soil, and we, like many other countries, are doing the best we can to effect its conversion.
“The Russian government has been accused of not taking suf-ficient measures to identify all children with extraordinary abilities and to isolate them — in other words, to force them into a state of narcosis until the disarmament process is complete. But that is a step the Russian government is not about to undertake. The children of Russia are equal citizens of our country.
‘5Amd let us not overlook the question of why people might desire to isolate those who reject murderous weapons instead of those who manufacture them! The Russian government is taking measures to prevent spontaneous emotional outbursts in the children that might possibly transmit a signal and blow up any kind of armaments they didn’t like.
“All Russian television channels have completely banned films showing murderous weapons. All toy guns have been destroyed. Parents are constantly minding their children in a bid to head off any negative reactions. Russia — ”
The President broke off his speech abruptly A tow-headed boy of about five rose from his seat and approached one of the videocamera tripods. At first he just examined the screws on the tripod, but when he touched them with his hand, the camera-operator stepped back in fright and hid behind the row of correspondents. The President rushed over to the boy, took him by the hand and led him to the chair where he had been meekly sitting before, admonishing him along the way: “Would you please sit there quietly until I finish.”
But he could not continue with his speech. Two boys, about three or four years of age, were now standing at the communica-tions console, fiddling with the equipment. The children who had been sitting quietly right from the start of the President’s speech were now wandering all over the office, each one looking into whatever they liked. Only the older children — and they were few in number — still sat quietly in their seats, their eyes focused on the correspondents and the TV cameras.
One of them was a little girl with ribbons in her braids. I realised right off who it was. It was Dasha, the one who had blown up the missile complexes. She was not behaving childishly, but attentively and intelligently sizing up the situation, observing the reaction of the correspondents.
People all over the world with their eyes glued to their TV sets caught a glimpse of the rather distraught face of the Russian President. He surveyed the children now dispersed around the room. Seeing two boys fiddling with the government communications console, he glanced over at the door, on the other side of which his assistants, along with the parents of the invited children, were waiting, but he did not call on anyone for help. Excusing himself for the interruption, he rushed over to the boys who were already in the process of pulling one of the telephones off the desk, seized them one under each arm and told them:
“Look, these are not toys!”
One of the boys looked over and saw his chum hanging from the President’s other arm and burst out laughing. The second boy managed to reach out and give a tug on the President’s necktie, uttering the word Toys!
“That’s what you think, but they are not toys,” the President responded.
“Toys!” the smiling lad cheerfully repeated.
The President noticed several other youngsters, evidently attracted by the sounds and the flashing coloured lights, approach the console and start fingering the telephone receivers. After setting the two fidgeters down on the floor, he rushed over to the console, pressed one of the buttons and said:
“Cut all communications to my office immediately.”
Next he quickly laid out on his desk a number of blank sheets of paper. On each one he put a pencil or pen, turned to the children clustering around the desk and said:
“Here you are. You can draw whatever you like. Start drawing, and later we’ll decide all together who’s come up with the best picture.”
All the children gathered around the desk and began taking paper and pen or pencil in hand. To those who were not tall enough to reach the desk, the President offered chairs, either seating or standing the littlest ones on the chairs.
Satisfied that he had succeeded in occupying the children’s attention with drawing, the President once more went over to the podium, smiled to the television viewers, took a deep breath, and was about to go on with his speech. But to no avail. A little boy came up to him and began tugging on his trousers.
“What is it? What do you want?”
“Pee...” said the boy “What?”
“Pee, pee? You mean you want to go to the bathroom?” And once more the President’s gaze turned toward the door leading out of his office.
The door opened, and immediately two of his assistants or bodyguards rushed toward him. One of the men, who had a sombre and rather tense expression on his face, bent down and took the little boy’s hand. But the boy, still clinging to the President’s trouser leg, wriggled free, shaking his hand loose from the grip of the sombre-looking man attempting to take him out of the office. He held up his hand to the other men approaching — a gesture of protest which caught them completely off guard. Once more the boy raised his head, looking up to the President from below. Tugging on his trouser-leg, he repeated the word pee and began to crouch down just a little.
“This isn’t the right time for your ‘pee’,” said the President. “Not only that, but you’re being pernickety too.”
At that point the President picked up the boy in his arms, excused himself to the media representatives and headed out of the office, saying in passing: “We’ll be right back.”
In hundreds of millions of homes people watched as the TV cameras switched back and forth between the children playing, drawing and chatting with each other — and, more often than not, the now-deserted presidential podium.
And then little Dasha rose from her seat. Dragging a chair over to the podium, she climbed up on it, looked at the correspondents and then directly into the lenses of the TV cameras focused on her. She straightened the ribbons in her braids and began to speak.
“My name is Dasha. And our Uncle President — he’s a good chap. He’ll be back in a moment. Hell come back and tell you everything. He’s just a little anxious right now But he’ll be able to tell everyone how life is going to be good everywhere you look on the Earth. And that nobody need be afraid of us. My brother Kostia told me how people are afraid of us children because I blew up some big new missiles. But it wasn’t that I wanted to blow them up. I just wanted my Papa not to go away for such a long time and for him not to think so much about these missiles. Or look at them so much. He should look at Mama instead. She’s much better than any missile. And she likes it when Papa looks at her and talks with her. But when he goes away for a long time or looks at the missiles, Mama’s sad. And I don’t want Mama to be sad.
“Kostia, my brother, is very clever and intelligent, and Ko- stienka told me that I’ve frightened a lot of people. I shan’t blow up anything else. It’s quite boring, really There are other things to do that are much more important and interesting. They bring joy to everyone.
“Wu take care of dismantling the missiles yourselves. See to it that nobody ever blows them up. And please don’t be afraid of us.
“Do come visit us. All of you. We’ll give you living water to drink. My Mama told me how people here used to live. They kept so very busy building all kinds of plants and factories and got so carried away that before they knew it there was no more living water. The water had become dirty. And water was something you could only buy in bottles in stores. But the water in the bottles was dead, suffocated, and people began to get sick. That was how it used to be, but there’s no way I can imagine how people could possibly dirty the water that they themselves drank. But Papa said that even now on the Earth there are whole countries where there is no clean living water, and that people in these countries are dying from painful diseases. And there are no tasty apples or berries in these countries — everything living is sick, and the people eat sick things and feel wretched.
“Do come visit us, all of you come. And well treat you to healthy apples and tomatoes and pears and berries. When you’ve tried them and go back home, you’ll say to yourselves: ‘Don’t do dirty things, it’s better to live clean!’ Then later when everything’s clean in your country, well come visit you and bring you presents.”
The President, who by this time had come back, still holding the little boy in his arms, stood in the doorway and listened to Dasha’s speech. When she finished, he walked over to the podium. With the little one still comfortably nestled in his arms, he echoed Dasha’s words:
“Yes, of course... Do come, really, we have treatments for the body here. But that’s not the main thing. We all need to gain a better understanding of ourselves and our purpose. We really have to understand that. Otherwise well be swept off the face of the Earth like garbage. We’ve got to get together and clear away all this dirt we ourselves have brought forth.
“Thank you all for your attention.”
The scene in the President’s office faded. And Anastasia’s
“It is difficult to say whether it was the President’s or Dasha’s speech that had the greater effect on the viewers watching this live broadcast from Russia. But people were no longer inclined to believe the rumours that had been spread about Russia’s aggressiveness. People wanted to live, and live a happy life — they believed that a happy life was possible. After the live broadcast from the Kremlin the numbers of people wanting to visit Russia or even live there increased dramatically And upon coming back home from Russia these visitors could no longer live the way they did before. A new conscious awareness was sparked in each individual, like the first ray of the Sun at the dawn of a new day”