I think it's time that I come clean on one of my more unusual hobbies, especially for a die-hard anti-war guy.
I play miniatures war games.
Now, that may seem like a contradiction in terms, but when you look at the history of these games, the truth is that it is not quite as bizarre as you might think.
First off, the first true mini war games was designed, published, and played by one of the most anti-war authors of his generation, Herbert George Wells.
(More explanations on the flip.)
That's right, I'm talking about "Little Wars" , one of the first games to have formalized rules. Although there are a few rather sexist comments in the introduction, the game is surprisingly forward looking. Thoughts are given to the need for referees and for the potential for manufacturers to create pieces specifically for recreating specific battles.
In several of his comments on the game, Wells put forth the statement "The Tin Soldier leaves behind no tin widow, and no tin orphan". Indeed, he specifically stated that the understanding of war was truly necessary. "If Great War is to be played at all, the better it is played the more humanely it will be done. I see no inconsistency in deploring the practice while perfecting the method."
It was a lofty goal, and as someone who has experienced first hand the horrors of REAL war, the intellectual exercise involved with strategy, looking forward, and understanding the consequences of your orders without actual casualties, is rather exhilarating and a fun social outlet.
In addition, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the hobby aspect. It takes a great deal of time and effort to paint a figure smaller than your thumb with great detail. Learning the various techniques of inking, undercoating, dry brushing, highlighting and varnishing take serious concentration. They cannot be undertaken by the impatient with any degree of success. For example, I've been working on the SAME army for over 2 years. I will occasionally find opportunity to put in more time, but the joy of painting is a treat reserved for special occasions.
I wish I had more time to play, honestly. The digital world of games is far easier and accessible, but there is a distance from others involved in them. The real experience of playing against another player is minimized, and the effort involved in your painting cannot be experience in the electronic realm.
And I still am against war. I have no qualms whatsoever about serving my country, and if I could be back in uniform, I would. But even in uniform, we need those who will be the voice of conscience. Honest people, who will still go when called, who would not choose war. To me, there is no disconnect between being against war, but being willing to fight if needed.
I just would rather do it, quietly, humanely. Where the only sounds of war are those of the rattles of dice, and the only casualties return to fight again in the next battle.