It is Easter Sunday. Since last night at the brazier Christians the world over have been singing the hymns of resurrection. “Indeed,” they are saying, “Christ is risen!” This rising, however, has been eclipsed here in Ireland with quite another rising; the state commemoration of the 1916 Easter Rising. Dublin’s principal streets were the scene of a military parade the likes of which this country has not seen since the days of British rule, and all to mark the one hundredth anniversary of a revolt that had broken out not on an Easter Sunday but on an Easter Monday, and not one hundred years ago today but one hundred years ago this coming 24 April.

In a neutral nation that has assisted the United States conduct a foreign war and the movement of people whose human rights are being violated through our airport at Shannon; in a country that has overcome centuries of warfare and violence, we mark the most sacred day of the Christian year with a display of guns and tanks. Today was a parody of the Ireland we have become. In spite of my best efforts Easter was a lost cause today, and I do not feel up to the task of taking on the martial element of what replaced it. Yet I cannot let it pass without protest, and for this reason I want to think about peace – because this is what both celebrations should have been about.

Back in 1991 Sid Meier’s gave me the gift of the game Civilization. Thanks to this empire building PC strategy game I spent the last days of my schooling awake through the night going toe-to-toe with the French and the Russians, running vast railway networks across Europe, and racing towards nuclear technology before my opponents. Only recently did I come across a high school teacher in the United States who had developed a similar game for his pupils to play. John Hunter’s World Peace Game is just like “Civ” except for one crucial detail; rather than teaching the arts of power and domination it is about bringing the world from the brink of the war and environmental disaster.

Interestingly his game concept was created in the 1970s, two decades before the development of Civilization. His was imagined at the height of the Cold War and was about peace, and Meier’s was released during the collapse of the Soviet Union and was about war. Sid Meier’s wargame was an instant success, and I have played all of its sequels, but it has taken me five whole decades to find the World Peace Game. Perhaps if Hunter’s idea and not Meier’s succeeded we would not be in the new global war and renewed Cold War we now find ourselves. It is worth a thought.

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