I am generally amused when I am able to see the same set of facts from a variety of perspectives and come to a better judgment of what is going on, and today I found an example that was much to my liking, even if it temporarily caused some stress among the people I was dealing with. One of the games I play is called Politics & War, a fairly basic nation simulator with somewhat basic mechanics that encourage activities both tending towards politics on the one hand and a rather oversimplified form of fighting on the other. It so happens that in playing this game I am a member of an alliance’s government in several branches and this morning before work one of the newer players in our training alliance brought to my attention some hilarious posts that he had received from a nation he had attacked but also given some advice to on how that nation could better defend themselves and be safe from raiders like himself.
It is part of the normal life cycle of the game that inactive nations are raided by more active nations which have less infrastructure but which seek to profit off of looting the defenseless, and new players are often strongly recommended to join an alliance in order to have some sort of people willing to come to one’s defense in case of military operations. Smaller nations can take a few weeks and gain a significant amount of funds through looting other nations, and the young nation who was raiding was a successful raider and had apparently gotten under the skin of the person he attacked and was defeating, much to the hilarity of the rest of us.
Seemingly unconnected to this, we got a request in the server for our alliance bloc that a nation that had applied to an allied nation of ours for one of our raiders to offer peace on a raid that they were doing because some nation has having a bad day and wanted a little relief. In such cases as this, we politely ask our raiders for peace but do not demand it, because the raid was begun while the nation was not in any alliance and we do not wish to sap the morale of our young raiders. It so happens, as you might be able to guess, that the nation who had been attacked was the same nation that was sending nasty and unpleasant messages to the raider, who was of course sharing those messages for the amusement of the rest of us.
Upon privately speaking to the nation in question, I became aware that I had now seen three different perspectives of the raid and had experienced a fourth. That is, I had seen the rude posts of someone who was in a bad situation and not handling it well. I had seen the understandable determination of someone who had been insulted not to be merciful to someone else who had behaved rudely with them. I had seen the efforts on the side of allies to peace out a fight and work on behalf of a prospective member who had bitten off more than they could chew, and I represented the point of view of someone who had to negotiate between the internal politics of other government members as well as the raider and the geopolitics of making sure not to ruffle feathers with any allies. The end result was highly instructive.
It struck me as highly regrettable that the nation which sought peace had gone about this by not recognizing the need to be friendly and gracious even with one’s temporary enemies. When one takes a game like this personally, one can inflame the hostilities of those who might be otherwise inclined to be nice if circumstances were better. While it can be a temporary relief to release one’s spleen at people that one is at cross purposes with in a given situation, it is a more serious and lasting problem if one’s lack of social graces and diplomatic abilities leads people to think of someone as an enemy rather than as an opponent. Opponents are people whom we are at cross purposes now, but who may, if circumstances are right, be allies in other endeavors at a future date. Enemies, though, are those with whom we have a lasting degree of bad blood, which is more troublesome and problematic. And often all that it takes to push someone from an opponent to an enemy is a lack of politeness. Let us all profit from the example.