Carving out my empire like a peacekeeper in Civilization 6
My prayers for peacemakers in Ukraine, Russia, and the world.
Ottawa was the first city I planted on this unknown land. I wasn't sure what I was doing or where I am at in this version of the world, but I know I am up north with some tundra not far from me and have access to some rich farmlands and water sources. I spend many years building up my Ottawa while doing some risky explorations. I bumped into many barbarians and lost many scouts and builders. The early years were rough, and I am glad I didn't plant more cities. It would've been tough to defend as I didn't want to put too many resources and focus on warriors and military units.
It wasn't until the late late industrial age that I started expanding my Canada. I strategically planted cities to block off a corner of my continent, and quickly, I had carved out a vast kingdom with my cities. I spend most of my time expanding trades, aiding other countries in need, and growing the culture of my cities. Basically, I was being a good Canadian. I had one or two defensive military units fortified in my cities, and it wasn't till 2020 that I had my first naval unit. Seriously, I wondered how I survived my first two millennia.
I was hooked to empire-building games ever since I first played Sid Meier's Colonization back in 1994. I fell in love with the explorations and the choices to mould and create my own country. But I also loved war, and that's why I had spent much of my time and resources stocking up on military units and attempting to invade other cities. In a way, I tried to play it like the classic RTS game, Command & Conquer. I thought I could win if I got more resources, built a vast army, and picked a place to fight over. Who knew I had to govern people's happiness, consider their morales and invest in their future?
As it turns out, waging war all the time doesn't make a good place to live in. And in some ways, it makes games like Civilization more stressful and difficult. I was always watching my borders as attacks would come invariably, and my grievance points kept going up. Also, peace was costly once I picked a fight with someone, which adds to my limited resources that could've advanced my people's scientific and cultural developments. In the end, I lagged behind all the other countries, and my name faded into a blur.
I think that’s why the older I got, the more I started to play these games with a more equitable and peaceful mindset; To be a less aggressive and warmongering leader. And it's faring much better!
World peace seems to be a hopeless cause these days in light of Russia's unjust invasion of Ukraine happening right now. It’s ironic that we teach children to make peace and be good to one another. We ask them to follow the golden rule; to do to others as you would have them do to you. Yet, the older we get, and as we gain more power and influence, these rules and virtues apply less. In that, the governing of countries and how we relate from one nation to another often plays out like a video game of an angry, undisciplined child than a wise leader who cares for people and this planet.
I think this is why many of us feel a bit hopeless about a peaceful resolution. On the one hand, we believe our modern era of information and scientific development should have brought about more peace; that we should all have learned from our history. Yet, today, we have a world leader who acts otherwise. Instead of peace, there is murder; instead of serving his people and the world around him, there is oppression. And rather than having the courage to stand firmly against, other world leaders are uncertain about the cost of resistance.
Some may be asking, how much do we want to provoke this much bigger bully until it turns to us? To what degree should we, as an international neighbour, rise up to say no more and be the voice of the oppressed. Is economic sanction enough, or should there be more consequences?
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
When Jesus taught the sermon on the mount in Matthew chapter 5, I think the idea of peacemaking was difficult to grasp by his listener. What does it mean to be a peacemaker when an invader rules over them? Does it mean to ignore the injustice and not fight back? Does it mean we should mind our own business and not get involved in the conflicts of others?
No! Of course not!
Peacemaking does not stand on its own from God's justice. On the contrary, peace should come out of and reflect our God's character of love, mercy, grace, mercy, and justice. Peacemaking is not shallow, blind or self-defeating, but rather, it is intentionally sacrificial and self-giving. It means choosing the hard work of peace when the cost is high. It means world leaders will have to decide whether to risk their nation's well-being to stand up for others because it is morally just. It is a big decision, and yet, that's why God gives authority to governments and world leaders1; they are called to govern in righteousness as God would have wanted.
For many of us today, we may not be world leaders or are in a role within our governments. Yet, we are citizens of our nations with able bodies and voices. What we need are citizens who not just ask our government to make decisions that do not affect us but also individually be willing to act and give up our security and resources for the sake of others. We have to tell our leaders we are ready to stand up for others even if it means harm or loss to us. This should come naturally to Christ-followers.
As Christ-followers, we are, first, people of God's kingdom. This means we have a God that is already victorious and ready to hear our petition for His justice, mercy, and grace. We place our hope not merely in human endeavours and chance, but rather it is in the hands of our God, the Maker of our innermost being and the Defender of the weak. We do this because our God does not forget, and He is not powerless against the corrupted nature of human beings. He will have the last judgement on all of us, and until then, we pray for the transformation and softening of our hearts and mind.
And so this is my prayer as a peacemaker, that God will soften the hearts of the Russian people; that their citizens and their soldiers will feel the weight of God's righteousness in their hearts and mind; that they will know and have the courage to act justly and in love for others as they would want others to do to them. That God will make them peacemakers. May they resist the hardened heart of their fleshly president, and may they place their allegiance ultimately to our LORD Jesus Christ, who loves them and desires all of us to belong to Him, together. Amen.
When the righteous thrive, the people rejoice;
when the wicked rule, the people groan.