I tried to write about basketball and ended up writing about science fiction and the Middle East

My most recent post was about the conflict in the Middle East. So was the one before that and the one before that. And two of the next three before that. And so on. Not quite two solid months of football in the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, but I could easily pull off a similar streak if given half the chance. It’s hard not to write about geopolitical issues that affect people I love (that is, people), and I still have a lot more to say.

But the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can too often resemble rival fans supporting their favorite teams — the message of my previous post notwithstanding — so to distance myself from falling completely back into familiar patterns, I hope to periodically punctuate my commentary on the real conflict with frivolous asides about meaningless sports. In other words, what I usually like to talk about. At a minimum, I hope the breaks will provide me with a reminder that war is not sport.

All that said, I can’t help myself. It’s impossible to discuss my topic tonight without thinking of what’s happening on the shores of the Mediterranean. Without further ado, I present the ongoing trade negotiations between Cleveland and Minnesota. (Bear with me.)

For those who don’t know, Andrew Wiggins was the number one overall pick in the most recent NBA draft. Kevin Love is another very good basketball player.

Rumors that the players might swap teams have been circulating for a while now (I know, because I’ve been thinking about this post for a while now), and it’s nice to see that the players involved have managed to maintain a sense of humor about the situation:

Pun totally intended.

Anyway, I find it impossible to see daily headlines about “Wiggins for Love” without being reminded of Ender’s Game by the reviled Orson Scott Card. At the end of the book, Andrew (“Ender”) Wiggin trades his career as conquering hero for the thankless role of Speaker for the Dead — a decision he makes out of love for those dead (who, incidentally, he made dead).

I’m not going to detail what happens (you should really just read the book) beyond the spoilers that complete this sentence, but the important plot point is that although Ender achieves total victory over the space invaders, he comes to love them in the process. Ender poignantly explains his torment:

I think it’s impossible to really understand somebody, what they want, what they believe, and not love them the way they love themselves. And then, in that very moment when I love them . . . I destroy them.

To quote another series about a potentially irreconcilable other, “All this has happened before, and all this will happen again.”

We’ve seen this movie before: Both sides will come out of the eventual cease fire claiming victory, but neither will have achieved anything an objective observer would recognize as victory. We can only hope that, like Ender, the ongoing tragedy will eventually help the warring peoples better understand their adversaries, what they want, and what they believe, and they can eventually grow to love one another like they love themselves.

Only then might anyone credibly claim victory in Gaza.

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