Peace toys for war toys
The Toys of Peace by SakiThis is a comic story of nature and nurture, war and peace, and the creative imagination of children.
Toyshops that make a virtue of not selling pretend guns are enthusiastically supported by parents like me. We’re not very consistent, and tend to excuse toy bows and arrows, swords and spears: they somehow have greater historical respectability, and the real versions are more limited in the damage they can do. Not that it matters:
Image: Children using bananas as guns.
When I was a child, my mother avoided giving my brother toy guns, whereas a family we were friends with had a playroom that was a veritable arsenal. Less than twenty years later, my brother joined the army, whereas the staunch Conservative Party activists found theyd raised three campaigning pacifists.
War and Saki
Saki volunteered in WW1. He was too old to enlist for officer training, so went in as an ordinary trooper. He was injured more than once, and returned to front before officially fit. He was evidently no pacifist, but by the time he wrote this, perhaps he was having second thoughts. He died in the war. This was published posthumously.
Eleanor Bope has sons of nine and a half and nearly eleven. She reads a newspaper article about the National Peace Council, which echoes her concern that boys “naturally love fighting and all the panoply of war”. She asks her brother, Harvey, that when he next visits, he brings “peace toys”, rather than soldiers and similar.
Harvey agrees to do his best, with the caveat:
“There is primitive instinct to be taken into consideration, you know’, said Harvey doubtfully, ‘and hereditary tendencies as well’.”
A while later, the boys excitedly unwrap crinkly paper and find what they think is a fort, but it’s a municipal dust-bin! Other models include a YWCA, an art school, a public library, a municipal wash-house, a beehive, a sewer ventilator, and a ballot box. There are even action figures: John Stuart Mill, Sir John Herschel, Rowland Hill, and nameless sanitary inspector, district councillor, and poetess, Mrs Hemans.
“Are we to play with these civilian figures?” asked Eric.
“Of course,” said Harvey, “these are toys; they are meant to be played with.”
History homework becomes oddly appealing. And when Harvey goes to check up on them… You can guess.
See the Monty Python - Self Defence Against Fruit sketch HERE.
Im gradually collating reviews of Saki short stories under The Best of Saki, HERE, as I read them in a rambling way, over several weeks and months.
You can find his stories, free, on Gutenberg. For example, HERE. Most are very short.
News & Articles
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. It is hoped that manufacturers may take a hint from the exhibit, which will bear fruit in the toy shops. Go about in the shops and buy any little toys and models that have special bearing on civilian life in its more peaceful aspects. Of course you must explain the toys to the children and interest them in the new idea. I regret to say that the 'Siege of Adrianople' toy, that their Aunt Susan sent them, didn't need any explanation; they knew all the uniforms and flags, and even the names of the respective commanders, and when I heard them one day using what seemed to be the most objectionable language they said it was Bulgarian words of command; of course it may have been, but at any rate I took the toy away from them.
City youths can exchange toys and video games that promote violence and aggression, such as toy guns and knives, for basketballs, footballs, puzzles, board games and non-violent computer games during the 21st annual Peace Toys for War Toys Exchange, to be held Friday, Dec. The exchange is sponsored and organized by the Carl H. Russell Sr. Community Center. The exchange is for youth ages 3 — 14 who are accompanied by a parent.
In The Toys of Peace by Saki we have the theme of control, childhood, freedom, fear, disappointment and independence Taken from his The Complete Short Stories collection the story is narrated in the third person by an unnamed narrator and after reading the story the reader realises that Saki may be exploring the theme of control. She feels as though they should not be playing with soldiers as it may have a negative influence on the lives of both boys. If anything Eleanor is not allowing Eric or Bertie to be children and in many ways she is attempting to take away the freedom that is usually associated with childhood. However this is not how Eleanor or Harvey see things. They believe that non-military toys are more productive to children. For them historical figures should be played with but not necessarily those who have fought in wars.
Committed to the struggle to make a safe and peaceful world for all children and grandchildren
And her companions Barbara W, Teddy and Carol — what could have been on their minds as they slipped in beside Lillian? The Raging Grannies in the lobby joined the riders in song — all of us there to encourage shoppers to choose toys that can help children become productive, compassionate adults. The Toys R Us employees handled the folks on the Ferris wheel with courtesy and restraint. They asked the peace riders to put their banners away and allowed them complete their turn on the Ferris wheel. The riders put the banners away while their cars were down near the Ferris wheel entrance and unfurled them again when the cars were up on high. There were a lot of thumbs up signs and two young men who were working in the store taking photographs began singing with us.
It was actually my wife, Pam, who bought the little green men and brought them home. The boys were excited when they got home. Army men! Really thinking: is it? Is this good parenting?
During this Christmas season, we once again raise our voices to urge all who love and nurture the young to refrain from the temptation to purchase gifts that promote violence as a means to resolve conflict. Most assuredly, if fidelity to the Way of the Prince of Peace means anything, it is to remind us that violent means can never produce peaceful ends. Surely, we must do all we can to foster in children alternative and loving ways to deal with inevitable conflict. Their energies and enthusiasm need guidance and models of behavior that remind them of their potential to create cooperative relationships. Our communities and our world cry out for imaginative people who can see with new eyes the way out of the quagmire of endless, deadly war-making and the perpetuation of enormous suffering. Let us guide our young and lead them in the way of peace.