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Peace 2010. From the pens of young writer.

MILITARY buildup continued in both the United States and the Soviet Union with no end in sight. Then the unthinkable happened. Soviet nuclear missiles struck in the morning of March 24, 1985, on the US naval base near Tacoma, Wash. The US military immediately [went] on Red Alert, an answering strike was launched toward a military installation near the Soviet city of Baikonur. The destructive exchange had been caused by a computer malfunction in the Soviet Union, which, luckily, was quickly discovered. Soviet leaders were on the phone to the American government, and given that the continuation of nuclear exchange would destroy both nations, the negotiators were willing to compromise enough to stop the launching of any more warheads. Society on Earth had almost seen its end; it was only because of this that a way was opened for a new beginning. . . . A few crucial social institutions underwent change to add to the transformation of values taking place in the public. The media . . . took on a greater sense of purpose in bringing the world together in a more peaceful way. Television had already undergone some changes of its own in broadcasting news about The Disaster; therefore, change in the media's outlook came more easily as the nation began to settle down. Now that there was more interest in the public in the ``what'' and ``why'' of global events, news broadcasts took on a more international focus. Cultural as well as political aspects of foreign nations were discussed as more and more network ``special reports'' appeared. World problems previously ignored in mainstream news -- overpopulation, desertification, oceanic exploitation -- became a part of the regular nightly coverage. The focus of American news was shifting from being centered on local events to giving equal credit to news from countries around the globe. . . .

Among other changes, the degree of violence in programming was greatly reduced, materialistic values were promoted less often, and more educational programming was produced and aired on prime time. Television became a tool that taught less about killing and more about understanding and giving.

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There was also a call from the public for changes in education. . . .

Tides in American society began to shift, and the American people took a new, critical part in their government's decisionmaking. The sense among the people of responsibility for their government's actions had mushroomed after The Disaster. The chaos and helplessness people had experienced after the nuclear blast hit the nation had inflamed in people a new need to understand and control. There was a new passion to learn, and a new will to be heard. . .

Meanwhile, politicians had already completed some positive steps on their own. The most crucial was a nuclear freeze, negotiated by the superpowers in 1987, in the wake of The Great Disaster. The freeze controlled testing, production, and deployment of nuclear weapons as well as germ weapons. Included in the agreements were provisions for bringing the US and the Soviet Union together in new ways -- ``safe'' routes of information exchange were opened in areas of medical technology, education, agriculture, and the arts. . . . WITH the newfound political influence of the American people, the continued uneasiness of the Soviet government and people, and a stronger-than-ever United Nations, American and Soviet leaders finally signed a Pact of Coexistence in June of 1999.

To reach the agreement, both nations had to make drastic sacrifices which they had never before been willing to concede to. But with the cry of people from all the world's nations pushing them ahead, the Soviet Union agreed to abandon quests of harassment and control over the American nation, while the US agreed not to hinder the Soviet nation in any progress it tried to make, as long as it did not involve aggression toward other nations, and not to harbor Soviet political escapees. They agreed that the only way either nation could hope to survive was to accept the existence of the other, and not try to bring instability or harm to it. . . .

The recognition of the need for coexistence between the superpower nations, and the peaceful agreements arrived at, set an example for third-world nations and reduced the incidence of conflict between neighboring third-world countries. Additionally, the United Nations had grown stronger: Support had grown from both superpower nations, and third-world nations brought new health and stronger voices to UN sessions. . . .

Global trends today seem to be leading us toward greater stability and prosperity. Governmental tempers do not flare as easily as they did before 1985, and for the most part there is a new maturity among nations when it comes to handling disputes. Economically there is more cooperation between countries, but at the same time there is a respect for aspects of economic isolationism and for cultural differences. Children continue to express joy in learning about new cultures, and exchange-student programs ensure an even greater degree of understanding among the next generation of world leaders.

Just in time, our world has stepped back from the brink of disaster. I am so glad that we will never have to come so close to total destruction again. . . .{et

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