Bang! Bang! You’re Dead!
THE early morning air is chilling. The trees in the dense forest are still—hardly a breath of air is stirring. The variety of birds that once roosted and took shelter in the leafy branches have suddenly disappeared. Wild deer and other animals who only a few hours earlier took refuge in the dense foliage have fled. A sense of foreboding fills the air. Inch by inch on your stomach you slither. There is mud and slime underneath. The dampness soaks through the tattered camouflage suit. Survival dictates you must lie prone in it.
Suddenly the stillness is shattered by a nerve-racking, warlike cry. Another human creature leaps from the underbrush not more than 20 feet [6 m] away. With reckless abandon he fires point-blank. His weapon jams without getting off a shot. His cursing fills the air. Instinctively you roll to the side, simultaneously squeezing the trigger of your weapon. In a blink of the eye, crimson covers the enemy’s chest and oozes over the front of his uniform. You have met the enemy and he is yours!
Are these the saddened reflections of a veteran of World War I or II, or Korea, or Vietnam? No, they are the setting and scenario of the thousands of “weekend warriors,” both men and women, who weekly take part in one of the fastest-growing sports in the United States and Canada, also in England, France, West Germany, and Japan. Divided into two teams of 12, 15, or 20 combatants each, the objective of the game is to capture the opposing team’s flag.
It is played by men and women of all walks of life—doctors, lawyers, nurses, secretaries, high-tech engineers, retail businessmen, and those up and down the corporate ladder. Dressed in camouflage fatigues, with faces smeared with mud or brown, black, and green coloring, all players are reduced to one common denominator—grotesque-looking adults playing at the game of war.
Equipped with specially designed handguns and rifles that can shoot gum-ball-size gelatin capsules filled with red, water-soluble paint, speeding at 250 feet [76 m] per second, bursting on impact, each player takes on the ominous appearance of a seasoned veteran of Vietnam combat. The telltale sign of red oozing seemingly from every pore is a notice to both friend and foe of a fatal casualty. Once any player is shot by an opponent, he is “dead” for the rest of the game. No prisoners taken!
The battleground can be any wooded area, often rented, leased, or owned by the franchise. Many such tracts have streams and dense underbrush, with the slime and mire mentioned at the outset. More elaborate ones may have specially constructed huts that resemble Vietnam villages for house-to-house combat. Many are given Vietnam names. Some may have army tanks to add to the realism or caves and foxholes for hiding or ambush. Small platforms may be constructed in the branches of trees, from which snipers may track their victims and make their “kill.” If the opposing team’s flag is not captured, then the team with the greatest number of “kills” wins the game.
War Games—Are They for Christians?
About 20 members of two Sacramento-area churches, in California, paid about $35 each to “participate in the increasingly popular outdoor sport,” one reporter wrote. “Church against church, they took to the rugged terrain for nearly six hours—hiding behind trees and 55-gallon [200 L] drums, firing carbon-dioxide-powered guns and trying to capture the other team’s flag.” When questioned about the propriety of a church leader engaging in such a sport, a preacher of one of the churches said: “Just because you’re a Christian doesn’t mean you can’t be a human being and have fun.” His counterpart, pastor of the opposing team’s church, reportedly “had no doubts about playing war games on a regular basis.” However, should not one calling himself a Christian have doubts about playing games that glorify war?
One player stated: “It’s everybody’s dream to sneak up and get right behind your man and blow him away. That’s the ultimate kill. He never knows what hit him and he’s dead.” Another said: “I fell in love with it the first time I played. It’s like getting addicted. You have to come every week and get your adrenaline rush.”
Many behavioral experts denounce war games as being offensive and a stumbling block to others, calling them a “frightening phenomenon.” Various reactions were:
“The act of pointing a gun at someone, paint pellets or not, and pulling the trigger could lead to desensitization when it comes to real violence.” “Getting a rush from shooting people seems unsavory in the extreme.” “I see it doing far more harm than good,” said a professor of psychology at the University of Wisconsin (U.S.A.) and a specialist on aggression. “The evidence is clear that there’s no beneficial catharsis and that there can be a reduction in the inhibitions against violence.” “Other critics have called the war games craze a sick version of people hunting and simulating murder,” says the magazine New Orleans. “One . . . suggested that war games participants were actually in need of a good therapist.”
Besides the morally obscene nature of the games, they are fraught with danger, resulting in many injuries.
War is an abhorrent thing. That is why a Christian gets no thrill or exhilaration from simulating or perpetuating it, dramatizing it. Rather than taking delight in participating in such aggressive acts, the true Christian delights in the fact that the Grand Creator, Jehovah God, will soon make “wars to cease to the extremity of the earth.”—Psalm 46:9; Isaiah 2:4.