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Video of a Peace Game

Video about a PEACE GAME – an example of how the peace concept can be perverted

John Hunter's talk the road to peace.



The video shows what happens when children enter the real world of adults and begin to play the political game. As Najet Adouani, poetess from Tunesia, would put it, entering the world of the adults means entering politics, but what happens to children if politics is like a game with a lie?

In the video, those who lie and distort information are called saboteurs, that is those who wish to undermine the game! They are included in the game, in order to give it a spice of reality. According to the narrator, their acts has a positive side for they can make people think deeper. I call that rationalization of something much more negative, namely 'learning to love the use of the lie'.

One part of politics linked to war is learning to use the art of deception. The aim is to limit the potentialities of the other. In that negative perception of the other is mixed in the fear the other could get stronger, more powerful, and therefore dictate the terms under which I have to live and to work. So best is never to let that happen. That is why many wars which are waged. They are called preventive wars.

The invasion of Iraq in 2003 was justified because Saddam Hussein was supposed to have weapons of mass destruction. It was not true yet Powel himself lied when he testified in front of the Security Council of the United Nations and claimed that the USA had absolute proof thereof. Later Powell admitted it was a lie which allowed the going to war.

Since many people will view this video and may think that this is a game which is good for the education of children, this kind of perversion of the peace concept must be made explicit. For the most treacherous part is to see in the video the readiness of children to participate in the game, as if that is already a positive gain for children. Easily can be overlooked that they are made to simulate a reality presumed to be that of the adults. It is a world which cannot do without war, military machines etc. A priori they are trapped into thinking the impossible is negative i.e. a world without war.

Children are excellent learners. They can imitate adults very quickly, even to the point of making the same gestures to their friends as their teachers and parents made to them. That means they can easily slip into the shoes of the adults and pretend to be like them. But the real challenge is not to press children into the scheme of adults, but to emancipate the adults to be free like children in their imagination. Freeing thinking from wrong presumptions about reality is, therefore, a way to get away from naive thinking.

It is very critical to see in the video how children can learn through such a game learn to adapt to the reality of the adults. Rather it is critical that adults do everything so that children do not fall victim to the same sort of corruption of the mind as many adults have already succumbed to. Why is then learning by imitation so negative? To me it means not to learn to question what you imitate. So when a child plays the role of a minister of defense, it is already in the adult world.

That becomes evident in the video when the example is cited of a nine year old girl who is Minister of Defense of a poor country deciding to attack the oil fields of the rich neighbour! It is presented in the form of a question: what such an attack has to do in a peace game? The subtle point is not answered, for the rationale is given that the nine year old child had the foresight to realize the rich neighbor wanted to dominate the whole world and by occupying the oil fields of the rich neighbor, that power was prevented from waging an even larger war. Immediately you have a justification of war: a small war is needed to prevent the larger war .

Such a rationalization, indeed perversion of the peace concept and of ethical thinking would never occur within Kids' Guernica – Guernica Youth. Children are not put into such a position. Rather everything is done to keep their innocence. This means they are left free to deal when painting peace murals with a reality in terms of their imagination and dreams. It means they will make impossible demands: no war, no soldiers, no military machines.

In that socalled peace game shown in the video with its lay out of countries with standing armies, you can see a military strategist going wild in his fantasy what he could do if he moves these and not those troops. That would mean children are trapped in a world appearing to be realistic, in order to animate them thinking in military and strategic terms. All moves to be decided upon in this game are a reference to war related moves. It even justifies military expenditures.

Rather the peace dimension requires that you step outside such a frame of reference to war. Only then can you pose the peace question in earnest. Otherwise you are in the same camp as President Bush who would say if you want peace you need to wage war. So no, this peace game is not a good example of the type of education we need, but exactly a clever trick. No wonder it is sponsored by Rolex.

How then to counter the readiness of adults to endorse such a game as alluded to in the video? It will require further discussion as to how we can explain and bridge this difference in perception or appreciation between such a game and experiences made by Kids' Guernica. Several principles can be formulated as to what this entails:

1. we need to avoid trapping children in the very mistakes adults have been making all the time.

2. For this reason philosophy is needed to mediate between the world of a child and the adult world.

3. Philosophy is based on the ability to question things i.e. not to take things by face value or what society wishes everyone to accept.

4. Nelson Mandela said, that you can get only further, if you dare to make impossible demands. To bring about peace without waging war is one of these demands.

5. A true measure of reality is the deep longing of humanity for a true peace.

6. Kids' Guernica – Guernica Youth means to let children, youth and even adults to paint together, and thereby to discover the true meaning of John Lennon's „image, we the people!“

7. The experiences made by children and youth when painting a peace mural is an investment in the future international relationships based on friendship, honesty, trust and openness.

8. It is hoped that the children will remember in future when adults that they did this mural together with the others, so they cannot be perceived as those Greeks or those Turks, that is with mere stereotypical images.

9. Most important is the question as posed by the Gezoncourt mural, whether „the other is an enemy or can viewed as friend?“ The question is most relevant within Europe and it starts with the French-German relationship.

10. We have in Europe and in the world many cases where peace needs apparently to be made first on a bilateral basis before going to the next level of multilateral relationships, but in multi-complex world in countless and different types of conflicts and wars quite another concept of peace work is required.

Our current times are frought with the danger of stereotypical thinking over dominating again due to recourse to nationalist thinking and symbols. It is reflected in the emphasis being givean to the national narrative, and not to the European and world narrative.

While children need to learn how to adapt to the reality as shaped by political forces within given institutions such as the European Union, and not alone by a national state, this type of governance is frought with problems. Moreover as Habesrmas would put it, Europe itself is only a part of a global world which requires still another type of world governance if peace is to prevail. The United Nations are far from fulfilling this demand but it is based on the premise, that it is better to talk to each other rather than going to war. Also one common agreement is shared by everyone, namely that people should be free to live in dignity.

Kids' Guernica – Guernica Youth seeks to free the adults in their imagination, so that they too can develop once again empathy for others. Since understanding of the other is a prerequisite for dialogue, children can then learn how to resolve conflicts by talking with each other rather than using weapons to set the terms the other must accept. That is the decisive difference, namely to give children confidence they can develop resources and which can be shared in a fair and just way, so that no one is coerced into going against his or her free will and conscience. That freedom must be guaranteed. It links precisely with the aim of facing together as well 'invisible violence' i.e. cyber mobbing.

Given the strong difference between what Kids' Guernica – Guernica Youth stands for and what this video entails, it underlines that a critical consciousness is needed against such clever ways of selling war as if a gurantee of peace.

Hatto Fischer

Athens 15.4.2013



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