Jimmy Carter, Kofi Annan and a bunch of the gang got together for Nelson Mandela?s 89th birthday, Peter Gabriel and Richard Branson came and, before you knew it, the golden oldies of world leaders were having their own Woodstock.
There were tears and humming along as Gabriel sang his song "Biko" about the anti-apartheid activist who died in police custody in 1977. But most of the time, the aged attendees were looking ahead.
"We?re coming up to the 60th anniversary of the universal declaration of human rights," Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland, reminded them, adding that ?people feel alienated. The elders can make it a living document."
With Branson?s prodding, the formerly powerful decided to form a group of elderly flower children to "bring hope and wisdom back into the world."
"The elders,? Branson predicted, ?will play a role in bringing us together to help unnecessary human suffering and to celebrate the wonderful world we are privileged to be part of.?
In 2003 Mandela was to see Saddam Hussein and urge him to take steps to avoid war, but the U.S. invasion began before he could get there. "An elder or a group of elders could have persuaded Hussein to leave and we would have avoided the war," Branson said.
Asked why they might be able do now what they failed to do in their prime, Jimmy Carter answered, "There were problems we did not solve because of a lack of time, or because of very intense pressures from our own constituencies, or because we were too bogged down with multiple, simultaneous questions to answer.
"But the elders ... have complete freedom to escape from the restrains of political niceties and be able to do as Nelson Mandela pointed out--we can talk to anyone and become involved in any issue."
George Bush and Dick Cheney would be a good start, but don?t mention Woodstock.
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