Watching Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky compete for the World Chess Championship, I learned it’s much “easier” to play for a draw (to TIE a chess game) by making safe, predictable moves rather than to try to WIN a chess game by making risky, aggressive moves. In a sense, this is the lesson of the Cold War. With the specter of mutual assured destruction in a nuclear war, both sides accepted a military “draw”—a tie. On the other hand, each side played to win the war of core values between America in the Free World and the Communists in Russia and China.
My grandson is learning to play chess.
It’s natural we’d love chess.
I played a great deal in high school and college. (During law school, the work load was so heavy that I didn’t have any spare brain power for chess).
I read and studied many books about chess.
I also learned by watching live TV coverage and analysis during the summer of 1972, when Bobby Fischer from the USA won the World Chess Championship by defeating Boris Spassky from the Soviet Union.
My grandson is descended from Russians on his father’s side. So it’s natural for him to love chess, much as it’s natural for a Canadian to love hockey.
Watching Fischer and Spassky, I learned it’s much “easier” to play for a draw (to tie the chess game) by making safe, predictable moves rather than to try to win the chess game by making risky, aggressive moves.
In a sense, this is the story of the Cold War. Facing mutual destruction in a nuclear war, both sides accepted a military “draw”—a tie.
On the other hand, each side played to win the war of core values between America in the Free World and the Communists in Russia and China.
When I was in Elementary School (not much older than my grandson is now), I remember being taught that a dictatorship like Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan, the Soviet Union, or Red China, is naturally more powerful economically and militarily than America.
Because the economy and the military run better when dictators tell people what to do.
Nevertheless, we were taught that it was far better to be an American than to be an atheistic Communist in Russia or China who persecuted Christians.
For the same reasons that we’d beaten Germany and Japan in World War II.
Because we believed in God.
Because we believed that all people should be free to worship God in whatever way they want.
Because, when we seek first the kingdom of God and its righteousness, all other things will be added unto us, including economic prosperity and military security.
Because might does not make right.
Instead, right makes might!
Nowadays, of course, the public schools are forbidden to say America should seek first the kingdom of God and its righteousness.
But when I was in kindergarten, our public school teacher could still lead us in prayer at the start of each school day and before any snack.
It was only when I was in First Grade that the Supreme Court banned such formal prayers from public schools.
Nowadays, we stress that we won the Cold War because our economy was stronger due to people being free to pursue their passions.
I believe that the freedoms of our free enterprise system are part of the reason that the United States and its friends crushed the Communists economically and won the Cold War. At the very least, we proved that the economy does not run better when the government tells people what to do!
But sadly, I also believe that, by gradually relying more and more on our economic and military power instead of by faithfully relying solely on righteousness first, we gained the whole world while losing our own souls. (Matthew 16:26; Mark 8:36-37).
I believe that the underlying reason for America’s victory in the Cold War was because we sought first the righteousness of the one and only God (Psalm 20:7):
—the one and only God who created all people equal and who endowed us with certain unalienable rights, among which are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
—the one and only God who is: “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands [of generations], and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.” (Exodus 34:6-7).
—the one and only God whose Spirit led Abraham, Moses and Jesus to discover America in their hearts.
Therefore, the victory of the United States of America and its friends in the Cold War was not because we sought first the false gods of the Power of Money, the Power of Religion, and the Power of the Kingdoms of the World.
To the contrary, throughout history—and to this very day—these false gods have led the United States of America astray from its noble ideals.
Instead, the underlying reason for America’s victories in past struggles—and in all the struggles that still lie ahead—is that we are struggling to establish an ideal America that deserves and earns the friendship of ALL people (regardless of their religion (or lack of religion), ethnicity, nationality or citizenship) and the friendship of ALL communities of wisdom (regardless of their religious beliefs).
This ideal America is wise enough to use force instead of violence.
This ideal America is wise enough to “play for a draw” whenever it deploys its police or its military.
Because this ideal America and its friends have faith that, if we seek righteousness first, then all other things will be added unto us, including economic prosperity and military security.
Because, if we seek righteousness first, then we will become the ideal America that Abraham, Moses and Jesus first discovered in their hearts:
The ideal America where we bless ALL people.
The ideal America where we challenge ALL pharaohs to set ALL people free.
The ideal America where we heal ALL hurting people.
The ideal America where ALL means ALL!!!
The ideal America that inspires ALL people everywhere (regardless of their religion, ethnicity, nationality, or citizenship) to proudly proclaim: “I am an American!).
My use of the phrase “I am an American!” borrows from a famous, stirring speech by President John F. Kennedy in West Berlin. Standing near the Berlin Wall at the height of the Cold War, President Kennedy said:
“All free men—wherever they may live—are ‘citizens’ of Berlin. And therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words ‘Ich bin ein Berliner’” (I am a Berliner”).
I use the term “communities of wisdom” as a catch all for faith communities, educational institutions, the press, etc.
For additional thoughts about my visions of America, please read my blogs “The ‘United States’ Compared to ‘America’” and “We Need Inspiring Visions of a Future. Why?”. And, of course, please read my book Visions of America (published together with my book Visions of the Church).
For additional thoughts arising from my grandson’s activities, please read my blogs “The Christmas Star: I Saw It in Real Life!”, “Honoring God with Only Our Lips”, “What Makes a Hero Good?”, “Video Game Strategy: Getting Crucified”, “Sprouting Seeds Takes Patience”, “Birthdays”, and “I Love You Gram. Bye!”.
For additional thoughts about using force instead of violence and about taking other types of wise, peaceful actions, please read my blogs “Spilling Coffee”, “Individuals and Systems, Now and Forever, One and Inseparable”, “Embracing Peace: No One Is Above Wise Laws”, “Embracing Peace: The Least of the Least”, “Curtailing Force: Reason, Facts and Wisdom”, “Curtailing Force: The Rule of Wise Laws”, “Curtailing Force: Replacing Nails with Glue”, “Ending Violence: Embracing the Spirit of Peace”, Ending Violence: Putting Faces with Names”, and “Keeping the Powers of Money, Religion and Kingdoms Separate”.