In “World Peace and other 4th-Grade Achievements,” by John Hunter, the author and game deviser tells of adding a saboteur to the game. Only he and the saboteur know who that is. The other players believe he or she only plays the designated role.
Having a saboteur in the game causes the players to come up with strategies to counter the saboteur’s actions. They have to reach more deeply into their intellectual and emotional selves.
Evil is a part of the world, so to designate a saboteur in the World Peace Game is only to call forth and bring to the surface what’s already there. I noticed that the children he asks to be the saboteurs don’t seemed surprised that people are like that and understand that they, too, can be deceitful. They can play the role of Iago, the character in Othello who clearly claims his villainy.
But Iagos among adults are rare. Perhaps we have suppressed our own tendencies for dissembling and sabotage.
I’m impressed that John Hunter includes sabotage in his challenging game. His hope is that the students he teaches may actually bring about world peace someday. That makes it necessary that his students not be naïve. They need self-awareness.
When we’re unconscious, we can be thrown for a loop. In our artless thinking, we believe that being open and honest is the way to go. The discovery that someone we trusted, a friend or relative, really does not have our best interests at heart can be devastating. The discovery can be so difficult that we tend to deny it. Yet somehow, we know. It could be that we experience some sort of illness or disease as a result. Or we may become quite suspicious, distrustful and unwilling to get close.
On the other hand, if we are not self-aware, we may not realize how we sabotage other people’s plans.
Hunter’s long background in meditation has made him perceptive and conscious. The process has caused him to learn about his own proclivities. We all need to that.
Miss Jelks, who has been on her own journey of self-awareness in “Night of the Iguana,” says “nothing human disgusts me, unless it’s unkind or violent.”
Jesus tells us: “be as innocent as doves and as cunning as serpents.” (Matthew 10:16.) Good advice from the one who teaches us to pray: “and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.”
Through meditation we come to know our worst and best selves. Knowing what we’re capable of will prevent our being blindsided. When we consciously seek to be authentic and transparent, we will be saboteurs only when we know what we’re doing. It will enable us to be better peace-makers.
The Rev. Dorothy Price Knudson is retired from active ministry in the Presbyterian Church, but still preaches regularly at Congregational and Presbyterian churches in the Eastern Oregon Presbytery. She can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Pastors in the U-B circulation area who want to write a column should contact Catherine Hicks at 509-526-8312.