Several years ago I heard a program on NPR’s Morning Edition interviewing a former Israeli Army officer about his interactive computer game called PeaceMaker. The game’s setting is the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. This is what caught my attention: He said it was about “winning peace.”
There are two roles: the Israeli Prime Minister or the Palestinian President. You can even take both sides and play “against” yourself, entering into different worldviews and available resources. Crisis situations inspired by real events are presented for a decision. There are political advisors who try to persuade to their side—hawk or dove. So it’s about decision-making and strategies. But the most interesting thing is that it shows the effect of the decision—and how the impact of that one critical act may play out in the future! Not unlike a process I often take clients through when they’re at some important juncture in their lives.
They did a short demo during the interview. The host chose to play the Israeli Prime Minister. A skirmish popped up. The advisors hovered. What to do? After a bit of indecision, the host decided he’d send in the army in the name of security—the hawk’s advice. It worked…for a moment. Almost immediately red lights lit up in a number of places on the map. His decision had sparked other crises! Then he was presented with the dire conditions Palestinian civilians were suffering as a result of his decision.
What to do? He took the dove’s advice this time and sent aid. But wait. The Palestinians rejected it. They didn’t trust the move. Look what he did just a short time ago. And so it goes…you don’t win in this game, or any other for that matter, unless the outcome is balanced for both sides. The inventor said losing and frustration are part of the lesson.
We have to learn to do it differently—for all concerned—until competition becomes moot. A one-sided gain never works in the long run. It’s really about acquiring far vision, following a decision out to the horizon line as much as we can.
In 2009 I was in Santa Fe at a conference put on by the International Funders for Indigenous Peoples Foundation. I heard many stories about outside impacts endangering Native lifeways. A Zuni farmer from Northern Arizona talked about the challenge he was having keeping genetically engineered corn from blowing into his fields and pollinating his Native corn. The result would be stalks that grow higher but are broken by the wind—and the loss of their pure Native strain that had adapted well to the conditions of their land over centuries. For his people it’s not just about loss of crops and food but also loss of heritage, a spiritual connection.
Shortly after returning I saw the documentary The Future of Food, largely about genetically engineered food and its effect, not only on health but heritage, and the absurd greed of large corporations. You see, these corporations have been allowed to patent their seed, a strange practice. There was a story about a farmer in the Midwest who, much like the Zuni farmer, was having trouble with Monsanto Corporation trucks passing on the highway blowing their corn into his fields. His family had developed their heritage corn over a couple of hundred years. He lost the battle. Not only did Monsanto’s corn cross-pollinate, he lost his family heritage in more ways than one. In a bizarre move, Monsanto sued him for patent infringement and won. Had such an outcome crossed the minds of scientists in the Monsanto labs who were developing the product? I’d like to give them the benefit of the doubt but who knows. Since that film came out there have been a number of others with a similar story line.
The examples given here—warring countries, loss of traditions and ways of life—are very big issues. But we can have an impact at the micro level, every day in our own lives, that play into the macro level. Typically we’re untrained. Not many think of wider impact, through time. But if we take the opportunity to project our thoughts and potential actions on down the road and assess the likely outcome, we’d actually find we all have an innate sense of far vision. We just need to stop, take a breath and then use it.
If you need it, perhaps you can find further inspiration from Neil Young.
I’m issuing you an invitation to make a statement for far vision. Participate in our January 31-February 1 Seed Wisdom events in Phoenix. Proceeds benefit the seed saving project founded by Grandmother Flordemayo of the International Council of 13 Indigenous Grandmothers. Make an impact. If you’re unable to attend, please donate to the project. Every bit makes a difference.