This past summer at Chi Rho camp, I was asked to lead a Peacemaking Games lab. (Thankfully, the curriculum was developed for me.) The games were interesting—in one of them, the youth were divided into continents (North America, South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia; Oceania was left out!), proportionately to the population of the continents. They were then given money and slices of bread, and a simple objective: you need one piece of bread per person. Africa usually started with two-thirds of a piece of bread, Asia had about one piece per three participants, and North America and Europe had a lot of money and far too much bread.
Again, the objective was one piece of bread per person—so if there’s three per person, that’s also not accomplishing the goal of the game, right?
There were certain rules—you had to pay five monies to transfer bread, but money could be transferred as necessary without cost; you could buy bread for four monies per slice from the Food Guy (me!); you had every right to do business with who you wanted to.
So these kids, who all knew each other, became almost cannibalistic when it came to creating their own economy. I heard some of the most unintentionally ignorant but rather telling statements from these Chi Rho kids—“Go back to Africa, we don’t want to give you any food,” for example—and without fail, about five minutes into the exercise, every day, I had to tell at least one group, “No, you cannot invade another continent to steal their bread or money.” At the end of the game, Africa and Asia weren’t doing so hot; South America started off better than the 1:1 requirement, and often, Europe and the U.S. had somehow made a profit and had too much bread.
Again, in this exercise, the objective was to make sure every person had a piece of bread. In this exercise, the money was not important. So seeing the kind of impulse that runs in us—protect self, keep money (we might need it!), meet our needs, take what we need by force?—even in a safe environment, it gave me pause. The work of peace is to go against every ingrained impulse we have, I think. Protect others, be generous at risk of self, meet the needs of the community, give what we have freely. Competition has its place, but so too does cooperation. Consumption has its place, but it’s nothing compared to collaboration and contribution.
We have our work to do. Let’s make some peace. This Sunday, we’ll start a jaunt about Moses and God and antici–
–pation. I look forward to seeing you Sunday!