The day that Earth would know peace had been seen and foretold ahead of time. But true to our era, it wasn’t predicted by a religious zealot, but a scientist. It was all very simple, really, or at least according to him it was. A week from his announcement, oxygen levels in the atmosphere were set to spike for reasons that even he couldn’t understand. But this spike in oxygen content would enrich the brains of humans the world over, humans that had been conditioned to only take in 21% oxygen, and lead to such benefits as decreased stress, improved blood flow, and, the scientist prophesied, the temporary cessation of all violent and aggressive behavior.
According to him, all of our moral failings as humans had nothing to do with original sin, or damaged psyches, or mental disturbances. Everything from murder to family strife could be blamed on oxygen deficiency. His findings, he said, were conclusive, and given his standing in the scientific world (one pundit famously likened him to Tyson, Kaku, Hawking, Sagan, and Einstein all rolled into one), people believed him.
The announcement spread quickly throughout the world, variously translated and transcribed into every language, sent to every corner of the globe, till everyone was collectively awaiting The Day of Peace.
There was no special marker when the day arrived. No procession of angels in gilded chariots, no booming announcement from the heavens. The sun rose along with the people, just like any other day.
But right from the start, things had changed. Neighbors who had never even met before came out, shook hands, started talking to one another. Porches were occupied by friends and stories alike. Spontaneous block parties started springing up, without any prior planning or notice.
Reports started coming in, city by city, that the numbers for violent crime had dropped significantly, maybe even reached zero. Other reports of people the world over taking the day off to spend time with family and loved ones filtered in.
And then the reports themselves stopped coming in–newscasters began announcing on air that they had nothing to report, that they’d rather enjoy the day and go off the air than continue to peddle their heart rate-quickening stories.
Live shows went down first, then even the taped ones (commercials too), as even TV station employees decided they had better things to do. Those who had homes and food brought in those who didn’t, and those who had less took only what they needed from supermarkets, the workers there helping them load in their free groceries before taking the day off, officers refusing to arrest them before themselves going home to be with their families.
At protests and picket lines, one by one people turned away, both protesters and police alike, most of them joining together in their common humanity, sharing jokes and stories about where they grew up, what their families were like.
Soldiers threw down their arms with ease–they’d all seemed to realize the inherent pointlessness in conflict and walked away from it. Commanding officers relieved themselves of their duty just as swiftly.
Child laborers were let go, human traffickers gave up their trade. Rockets stopped falling in Gaza. Troops stopped filing into Ukraine. Drones stopped attacking their targets. Imprisoned journalists were freed.
Political prisoners were let go en masse, the exiled were allowed back into their respective homelands. North Korean labor camps were shut down, and food distributed to its people. Guantanamo Bay was vacated.
Wall Street became a ghost town. All debts were forgiven. All grievances, whether personal or international, forgiven too.
The killers stopped killing, and the haters stopped hating. All religions made their peace with one another. Massive celebrations sprang up in all the major cities, with millions of happy people cheering, and meeting, and singing, and dancing.
This went on for the rest of the day, without a single hitch anywhere. No one did anything they weren’t supposed to, without exception, and instead went out of their way to help others. To be kind to others.
But the next day eventually came. And with it, a return to the old ways. People went back to work. Crime returned. TVs came back on. Millions challenged the scientist’s claims, distraught that the effect didn’t last longer.
And so, he begrudgingly appeared on TV. Took the talk show hosts’ slamming accusations in stride, until finally one began wondering where the scientist’s evidence was, his evidence that no one had asked for before. The scientist took a moment, and a breath along with it. He calmly replied.
“Well that’s because there isn’t any.”
“What do you mean?”
A calm smile.
“I made it all up.”