33) X & Y, betrayal and trust

In the past few months, I took part in a training programme about peace-building, conflict transformation and reconciliation between people. We were a group of (approximately) 20 young people from all over Europe and the Caucasus region. It brings back some hope since the whole week was all about helping our societies. But without romanticising it, I want to tell one story out of that programme, which shows again: small things matter. 

We played the X-Y game. Several groups compete against each other, trying to gain as much as possible. In several rounds, the groups vote secretly for X or Y. When a group only cares for itself, it will vote for X. If you although don’t care about your groups gains, but start to think and care for all groups, you vote for Y. If every group votes for Y, than everyone can be happy, but if the other groups vote for X (or just one does), the Y group loses. So the game comes down to trust, hope, fighting for the community instead of selfishness. 

What happened in our group was that we started voting for Y. Every single round. We lost most of the rounds, but we kept with the Y. A pact was made between the gorps and violated by one group. We stayed with the Y. We said, “if we now also vote for X, we are no better but also just care for ourselves and nothing can change”. At the end we had the most minus points of all groups.

Where is the good message in that? Didn’t it show that sharing and humanity did not work out? No, this game works out differently every single time you play it. And in the reflection time afterwards, the best part came. We had an observer for the group, because he had played the game before in a different training. And watching us changed him.

He said, the last time he played his group only voted for themselves. Completely different to us. Seeing us voting for the bigger group surprised him. And he, a rather quiet person, said that by watching us, he found some trust again and saw a positive side in humans again. Some hope. He said this at the end of the training programme again, as one of the main things he took away from this training: trust.

I had no idea, that this could make such an impression, that it could affect the mindset of a person this much. It was so good to hear. He did not only think that way, it was also important enough to share this change with us.

One person matters, every single thing we do matters, even if it is in a game. So every single thing we change matters as well.