Mon, May 20

Letter: Practice cooperation and peace


“Violence as a way of achieving racial justice is both impractical and immoral. I am not unmindful of the fact that violence often brings about momentary results. Nations have frequently won their independence in battle. But in spite of temporary victories, violence never brings permanent peace.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King is absolutely correct in saying that violence never brings permanent peace. This has been known for thousands of years. Consider this quote from the ancient Chinese military general, strategist, and philosopher (722–481 BC) Sun Tzu:

“Those who go into battle and win will want to go back. Those who lose in battle will want to go back and win.”

Think about what happens when someone is the ‘best’ at something. Everyone wants to beat that person and become the ‘best’. Competition sets in instead of cooperation.

Now let me tell you a story.

When I was a young adult, I was quite excellent at shooting pool. I had played for most of my life. I could go into a bar, spend 50 cents to challenge whoever last won on a table and win the table. That meant that everyone following me paid for the game. As long as I kept winning, I never paid. At first shooting pool this way was fun. After a few weeks of winning, I noticed that the challenges took on a certain level of spite and jealousy. The same people challenged me again and again. “I will beat you this time!” was screamed while slamming a fist down on the table. Some people even wanted to start fights when they lost the game. “I’ll show you!” “I am better than you!”

For me, pool was just a game. Anger and frustration had taken hold of too many people.

Violence as a way of achieving justice, peace, or happiness does not work. I took to having discussions with some of these people. “How long have you been playing?” “Do you really think beating me means anything to your happiness in the long term?” “Why is it so important to win?” “What do you really want?” After a while, these discussions did help as some of the women started to realize that I was no threat to them or their happiness. One day, we started talking about cooperation as a way to play an even better game of pool. We could all learn and improve through cooperation. Much to my surprise, many people agreed. Those who did not agree played at another table.

The initial anger might have gotten someone a momentary result of some kind. The peaceful solution brought about a long-term happiness with lasting results for more people.

Those who win without battle see the value in peace. The people who chose cooperation started winning all the time regardless of the outcome of a game of pool.

Practice cooperation and peace.

Therese Black

The Peace Alliance