I am choosing this as my first new post because it demonstrates why it will be our children that lead us to find Peace. It shows us why we as adults lack the one requirement we need to learn Peace. John Hunter is the inventor of the World Peace Game, which started as a 4’by 5’ plywood interactive board game. In my opinion he is a teacher in the truest sense of the word – he helps children learn by giving them problems to solve and then gets out of the way, and lets them figure out how to solve them).
In the World Peace Game, Hunter presents his students with four countries, and sets them against each other in every way, politically, socially, militarily, and economically. The game is a political science simulation where students inherit a situation based on the country they represent. Then they have to think their way out of the situation. Each country has different assets, both commercial and military. All students have a thirteen-page crisis document with 50 interlocking problems. The problems are set up so that any change to one problem affects every other problem. There are only two rules to win the game (1) All 50 problems have to be solved, and (2) The Assets of every country must increase during the game.
Before I go on to describe more about the game, first I want to explain why I believe that our children will be the ones to show us the way to Peace. First it will be necessary for me to explain the difference between a clever man and a wise man. A clever man is only interested in impressing others with his knowledge. This limits clever people’s thinking because they believe they already know the answers. If you think you know the answer, you wont continue the search any further. You will use the same tired solutions to look appear good in the eyes of others. This condemns you to use only solutions you that you already know. It is not possible to continue learning if you already know the answer. The necessary impetus to continue learning is absent.
The wise man may look like his clever counterpart. However, he is very different because he understands how much he does not know. He continues to question things and explore. He does not abandon his imagination. Einstein told us why imagination is so important, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.” In short imagination compels us to keep learning, and go beyond what we already know. It allows us to jump beyond logic, which can lead us to as yet unexplored new solutions.
As children reach adulthood their imagination atrophies. They learn to use it less and less, and it becomes an unused muscle. Many adults are only able to understand what they know, so their ability to use their imagination is reduced. The good news is that we can get back what we lost. We can see that in humans like Albert Einstein, Nicola Tesla, and Steve Jobs to name a couple. Each of these people had the gift to think beyond what people in their times knew. Imagination requires that we think past what we know! You won’t see many smart politicians, only clever ones. They use the same tired solutions year after year using cleverness to repackage the solutions they offer up. If they still had imagination they could see beyond problems to the causes. If they had imagination they would see that solutions that address the causes would at least have a better chance to affect the outcome.
Politicians lack of imagination does not allow them to see past problems to solutions. When a doctor prescribes something for a symptom, it only addresses the symptom, which may give the body time to heal the problem. Unfortunately there is no natural healing mechanism for societal problems. When politicians address the symptoms of a problem, it allows politicians to “appear” to be doing something about a problem. Unfortunately, they only hide it. Treating just the symptom only hides the true problem; it does not affect the cause. So the original problem continues to grow in size. When politicians address a symptom, the cost to taxpayers grows. If you want to see an example on this subject read my September post on “How politician’s solutions create new problems instead of solving the of the ones we have.”
Politicians have the opportunity to learn is from the consequences of the decisions they make, However, since their attention is taken up with getting re-elected, getting power over others, and winning, the opportunity to learn from the consequences of their decisions is often wasted. This is why I believe that only children are equipped to find Peace. We have already tried all the solutions that we know, so what we need is someone to come up with new solutions, ones with a healthy dose of imagination, and a touch of intuition. A child’s imagination gives them one additional advantage. They can learn lessons by making mistakes in their imagination. This way they can learn consequences with their imagination without having to make the actual mistake.
Because politicians are only able to see from the point of view where they know the answers, they cannot see past them to new solutions. All of us, not just our politicians must begin exercising the muscle of our imagination so we can see where the decisions we will lead us before we cause damage to the human race. Hunter’s children use their imaginations to solve complex problems. Exercising their imaginations while playing the World Peace Game they can experience the effects of war and peace, and the cost of both without having to experience the physical reality first.
Now that you understand why children will lead us to peace, back to the World Peace Game.
The matrix of this game incorporates both violence and peace, but for every death the responsible country must write a letter of condolence to the parents. The children remain aware that war has a cost. They are able to learn the consequences of their decisions through their imagination. In spite of having more experience with violence and war, our politicians have not yet learned a simple lesson – to learn from their mistakes. To them the deaths from war are merely numbers, statistics without meaning. They never have to write letters to the parents of those who have died in battle. It is done for them by military leaders. They never go to the battlefields, or war zones to see the damage they are responsible for. They are shielded so they are never face with the consequences of what they have done.
In the game, some countries are rich, and some poor. Players must deal with ethnic and minority tensions, environmental disasters, chemical, and oil spills, arms dealers, water rights disputes, and even nuclear proliferation. They must also deal with famine, endangered species, and even global warming. They learn about Sun Tzu’s philosophy so they are aware of how to avoid the path to power and destruction. They learn to think in terms of long-term solutions. They learn the value of cooperation and generosity, and if you work together you can accomplish anything. Many students have already figured out that if one country wins everyone else loses. Once the game starts, the teacher surrenders control and lets the children come up with their own solutions. This is where imagination comes into play.
There is even a documentary called, “World Peace and Other 4th Grade Achievements” that will give you a feel about what happens in the class. Of course the game has continued to evolve. Watch the two videos, links included, and watch how our children are learning Peace! Imagination is the secret to creating Peace!
© 2013 Dan Amato