Friday, August 27, 2010

Wargames. Don't Pick a Fight, But...

Twenty seven years ago, a movie made about the Cold War was not a period piece, but the reality that people lived with when they let themselves think about the insanity humanity had got itself into. It was not just a threat from a small fraction of the world involved in extreme ideologies. The whole world was split into two powers that had the ability to eradicate life as we knew it.

One of the best movies from this time that still holds up and has a simple yet powerful message was Wargames. Everyone should be familiar with the plot: 1. The US government automates its nuclear weapons. 2. A kid hacks into the system and accidentally starts World War III. 3. Everyone has two days to try to teach the computer the doctrine of mutually assured destruction. The message was also simple as well: “The only way to win the game, is not to play.”

That is a wonderful message and it does work most of the time. There are many things in life that are tempting and yet ultimately detrimental. The best advice in life is to be willing to listen to people who know more than you and avoid mistakes that you will regret later.

However, the message is also really na├»ve. When it comes to conflict, there are times when we have to play. Not just in war, but all aspects of life. You see, in the nuclear war scenario, not playing was the only way to win. It was no garantee against losing. All it took was for one side to decide to attack and everyone would lose. There are times in life when we are confronted with a fight, when we have to either take a stand for something or give up. In those times you really have three choices. Don’t react and lose. React and still lose. Or take a stand for what is right and you might win. Today we teach kids that fighting is ALWAYS wrong. Unfortunately, we also teach kids to not stand up for what is right.

In the case of the cold war, there was an end, and there was a winner. The key was to take a stand and find a way of beating the opponent without destroying ourselves. Sometimes it is best not to fight. Other times it is best to fight smart.

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