"…nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more." - Isaiah 2:4
My 5-year-old and I sat down at a chess board in a waiting room. "Let's play war!" he enthused with a pawn in his hand, then commenced making airplane, gunfire, and bomb sounds that he certainly never heard in our house. "No, let's play peace," I suggested in my enlightened parent voice. "Look, my guys will come visit, and we can build a clinic together."
"SCREEEEeeeeeee….BOOM!" he yelled.
"Or I know! Let's start a girls' school on your side! The better educated the women, the more power they have and the better a society becomes!"
"A clean water project?"
"Uh…dialogue circles with youth from our two countries?"
"Laser cannons! Pew pew pew!"
"Listen, dude. War really, really hurts people. It kills them. It's terrible."
"Peace is boooooring!"
Eventually both sides agreed to what history knows as the 2015 Waiting Room Accord: For every 5 minutes of war, we play 10 minutes of peace. In war, the knights could hit each other as hard as they want, but they had to use pool noodles. Ballistic (and laser) weapons were allowed, but only if they shot either rotten food, body fluids, or something imaginative other than bullets.
We don't talk about it much, but war, terrible as it is, is way less boring than peace. It may be terrifying, but it's also exciting, exhilarating, clarifying. There's no getting around it: guns are fun to fire and explosions are thrilling to watch.
Those of us who are trying to build peace have to figure out how to make it as exciting as war, at least sometimes. Because I do believe peace will prevail one day, but it will not be until pruning hooks are as fun to chuck as spears.
God, show us how to make peace as exciting as war. Make helping one another feel like an adventure. Failing that, at least turn our nuclear weapons into Poop Cannons and our rifles into Spiderweb Shooters. Amen.
Quinn G. Caldwell is the Pastor of Plymouth Congregational Church, Syracuse, New York. His most recent book is a series of daily reflections for Advent and Christmas called All I Really Want: Readings for a Modern Christmas. Learn more about it and find him on Facebook at Quinn G. Caldwell.