The Toys of Peace

By | March 29, 2009

On Public Radio’s “Selected Shorts” yesterday Diana Ivey read Saki’s short story “The Toys of Peace“:

“Harvey,” said Eleanor Bope, handing her brother a cutting from a London morning paper of the 19th of March, “just read this about children’s toys, please; it exactly carries out some of our ideas about influence and upbringing.”
“In the view of the National Peace Council,” ran the extract, “there are grave objections to presenting our boys with regiments of fighting men, batteries of guns, and squadrons of ‘Dreadnoughts.’ Boys, the Council admits, naturally love fighting and all the panoply of war . . . but that is no reason for encouraging, and perhaps giving permanent form to, their primitive instincts. At the Children’s Welfare Exhibition, which opens at Olympia in three weeks’ time, the Peace Council will make an alternative suggestion to parents in the shape of an exhibition of ‘peace toys.’ In front of a specially-painted representation of the Peace Palace at The Hague will be grouped, not miniature soldiers but miniature civilians, not guns but ploughs and the tools of industry . . . It is hoped that manufacturers may take a hint from the exhibit, which will bear fruit in the toy shops.”
“The idea is certainly an interesting and very well-meaning one,” said Harvey; “whether it would succeed well in practice –”
“We must try,” interrupted his sister; “you are coming down to us at Easter, and you always bring the boys some toys, so that will be an excellent opportunity for you to inaugurate the new experiment. . . (read the rest of the story online)

Saki (real name: H.H. Munro) was a British writer who died in battle during World War I. This story would be a good conversation starter in the first lesson of the Class of Nonviolence, where we read Alfie Kohn’s essay, “Human Nature is Inherently Nonviolent.

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