War is a horrible, heart-breaking tragedy of human society, and there have been many heroic and effective efforts to end it. But here’s one to share with the sports fan in your life: have you ever heard the story of the Brazilian soccer legend Pele who did the work of countless peace activists worldwide, with just his ten toes? Apparently, it’s true.
The story goes that in the 60s Pele was undoubtedly the very best soccer player in the world. Being so great, he and his team–the Santos, very auspicious!– realized that they could earn much more money (ok, stay with me…) by traveling the world and playing exhibition matches against the best teams of the country in which they found themselves. So, it’s 1969, and they go to Nigeria in the midst of a bloody ethnic war and the two sides of the conflict (let’s be clear, this is a reduction, there are always more than two sides in war) called a 48-hour truce to fill the stadium and see Pele play. That’s right. Fighting ended for that entire period!
Now, imagine if Pele had known a bit more about nonviolence at the time and had more information about the conflict he was entering. Maybe he would have seen the window of ceasefire as a sign that they actually wanted an excuse to end the fighting. Maybe he would have stayed for as long as negotiations had to take place. A word to all you soccer–ok, ok, football–fans out there: you, too, can end war. And I’m not kidding. Enter some major adoring crowd cheering noises here.
Think of ways we could interrupt the madness of war with a distraction, then capitalize on the lull to build peace.
The Metta Center for Nonviolence, PO Box 98, Petaluma, California 94953 707-774-6299 firstname.lastname@example.org