As I pondered which lessons about wars and rumors of wars I should highlight in this short blog, I decided it’s impossible. There are far too many lessons! There have been far too many failures! For purposes of this blog about how to establish and maintain a stable peace, I decided to highlight one common thread that thwarts our efforts: WISHFUL THINKING. To establish a sustainable peace in a just civilization that blesses ALL people, challenges ALL pharaohs to set ALL people free, and heals ALL hurting people requires far more than clever diplomacy and carefully crafted alliances. Such a peace and civilization can only be established and sustained with WISDOM!!! The kind of Wisdom that begins with the fear of the LORD. (Proverbs 9:10).
When I was about 10 years old, I began playing the game Risk with my cousins.
I loved that game!
What’s not to love?
Making and betraying friends and allies! Destroying other nations!! Conquering the whole world!!!
I got so excited!!!! My “signature” style of play was to stand up and pace whenever I rolled the dice to determine who won, tied, or lost battles!
Modern computerized versions aren’t nearly as good. They are efficient, using the computer to resolve battles by randomized calculations. But, for me, taking away the dice roll takes away much of the fun.
It’s like sitting quietly at a slot machine instead of standing and screaming with the other players at a craps table!
By my teenage years, I’d keep my Risk board set up for weeks on end in the family room. I left it on a card table that I put between the couch and the TV.
I was modifying the rules of the game of Risk to establish a stable world with justice and peace for all nations.
My efforts were informed by the causes of World War II and the challenges of the Cold War.
Very briefly (and very definitely over-simplified!), the events leading to World War II taught the following lessons.
1. An aggressor such as Nazi Germany or Imperial Japan must be opposed by superior military force at the earliest opportunity. Otherwise, the aggressor is emboldened to attack more nations. Furthermore, the aggressor is strengthened by acquiring the economic and military power of the nation they conquered. In contrast, those opposing the aggressor are demoralized. Furthermore, they are weakened by losing the economic and military power of the nation that the aggressor conquered.
2. Be very fearful of surprise attacks. The Soviet Union lost much of its army and air force from Hitler’s surprise attack when Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union. The United States lost much of its navy and air force in the Pacific from Imperial Japan’s surprise attack at Pearl Harbor.
These lessons from World War II made the Cold War extremely dangerous, especially because the fears of both the United States and the Soviet Union eventually built enough nuclear weapons to destroy all Humanity.
Neither side was willing to compromise.
And there was little time to decide whether a surprise nuclear attack was underway that required retaliation by enough nuclear weapons to destroy all Humanity.
In the decades since the 1960s, we’ve learned many additional lessons about how hard and complex it is to establish and maintain peace, and the rights to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness for ALL people. (see my blog “Chess Lessons: Playing For a Draw”.)
As I pondered which of these lessons about wars and rumors of wars I should highlight in this short blog, I decided it’s impossible. There are far too many lessons! There have been far too many failures!
Maybe I’ll discuss some of these lessons and failures in other blogs.
But for purposes of this blog about how to establish and maintain a stable peace, I decided to highlight one common thread that thwarts our efforts: WISHFUL THINKING.
Wishful thinking undermined efforts inside and outside of Germany to stop the spread of the Nazis.
Surely, no one could be so evil as to carry through on their threats to launch a new world war to reverse Germany’s defeat in the First World War.
Surely no one could be so ignorant and foolish as to believe Hitler’s Big-Lie that Germany had not actually lost World War I, but had only been Stabbed-in-the-Back by Jews and Communists.
Surely no one could be evil enough to plot the death of all Jews.
Wishful thinking continued after World War II.
Surely Stalin and Mao Zedong, and the Communist nations they led, could not be evil enough to enslave and kill millions of people, including citizens of their own nations.
Surely the “invincible” military might of the United States and its allies could easily impose peace and secure the rights to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, at least in tiny nations such as Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
(After all, the military might of the United States and its allies prevailed in World War II in less than four years despite suffering early, crushing defeats at Pearl Harbor and elsewhere. Furthermore, after the War, Germany and Japan became two of our best friends and allies, establishing governments of their people, by their people, and for their people that secure their rights to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.)
To establish a sustainable peace in a just civilization that blesses ALL people, challenges ALL pharaohs to set ALL people free, and heals ALL hurting people requires far more than clever diplomacy and carefully crafted alliances.
Such a peace and civilization can only be established and sustained with WISDOM!!!
The kind of Wisdom that begins with the fear of the LORD. (Proverbs 9:10).
The Wisdom to be compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love for thousands of generations, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. (Exodus 34:6-7; my blog “Building Houses on Rock: Mercy and Forgiveness“; the chapter “David Establishes the Work of His Hands with Mercy” in my book Healing the Promised Land, at pages 45-55; and the chapter “The Last, Best Hope of Humanity” in my book Visions of America, (published in one volume with my book Visions of the Church, at pages 59-101, especially at pages 99-101.
The Wisdom that does for others what we would want them to do for us. (Matthew 7:12).
The Wisdom that is patient. The Wisdom that is kind. The Wisdom that does not envy, does not boast, is not proud. The Wisdom that does not dishonor others, is not self-seeking, is not easily angered, keeps no record of wrongs. The Wisdom that does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. The Wisdom that always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7; my blog “Nationalism is Patriotism Gone Astray”.
The Wisdom that follows the Way of Jesus, embodying the ideals of the Law of Moses and the ideals of the Prophets. (Matthew 5:17).
The Wisdom to judge between the nations and to settle disputes for many peoples. (Isaiah 2:4).
The Wisdom to beat swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks. (Isaiah 2:4).
The Wisdom to keep nation from taking up sword against nation so that they will not need to train for war anymore. (Isaiah 2:4).
For additional thoughts arising from games, please read my blogs “Chess Lessons: Playing for a Draw”, “Poker Lessons: Playing the Cards? Or Playing the People?”, “Game Lessons: Use It or Lose It”, “Games Lessons: Sustainable Perseverance”, “Game Lessons: Sustainable Monopoly”, and “Video Game Strategy: Getting Crucified”.
For additional thoughts about establishing and maintaining a peaceful, just civilization, please read my blogs “Spilling Coffee”, “Establishing Peace Without Limit”, “Ending Violence: Putting Faces With Names”, “Ending Violence: Embracing the Spirit of Peace”, “Curtailing Force: Replacing Nails With Glue”, “Curtailing Force: The Rule of Wise Laws”, “Curtailing Force: Reason, Facts and Wisdom”, “Embracing Peace: The Least of the Least”, “Embracing Peace: No One Is Above Wise Laws”, and “Individuals and Systems, Now and Forever, One and Inseparable”.
To learn how America prevailed in the Cold War, please read my book Visions of America, (published together in one volume with Visions of the Church), at pages 113-151.