There are times it seems like there is a war going on, a war between the forces of light and the powers of darkness. You hear stories of wonderful people smashed by life’s brutalities, as if they were pieces of a cosmic chessboard not just removed from the fight but pounded into dust. I believe that the one who plays white looks and thinks and acts like Jesus. I think the one who plays black is fueled not just by the opportunity to win a piece, but to watch it suffer – as if the suffering of White’s pieces made a mockery of their master.
I also believe White is the better player. He sees far down the board, not just the pleasure of this moment’s victory. He sees beyond the loss of a piece to the eventual checkmate.
But I get both mad and sad that so many pieces suffer in the fight.
It’s far from a perfect metaphor, but there are elements of it I appreciate. I like that White is smarter. I like that he’s able, for the sake of the win, to sacrifice the most powerful player on the board. I like that he asks no sacrifice he hasn’t made. I like that he will win.
I also like the image that Black is short-sighted, impulsive and cruel. That’s what it seems like to me when a child is killed by a crashing airplane, or some crowing fool fires on an airliner thinking it’s a troop transport. That’s what it seems like to me when missiles crash into a safe school and/or weapons are stored there in the first place. That’s what it seems like to me when death steals a young father or a gunman takes out schoolchildren.
I like the notion that White moved first, calling forth a majestic world, rich and abundant with life, radiant with light and beauty, perfect in harmony. Black couldn’t wait to besmirch it, to reveal selfishness and hypocrisy as if these were the essential truths of existence. Black sees the board only through his own dark shadow, he cannot believe in beauty, truth, kindness, goodness. Black can’t stand the harmony of a sexual union where each is lost in loving the other, where covenanted love lives and works side by side to add goodness and life to the world. Black believes all sexuality is carnal and greedy and for the moment. It sees no sublime.
White moved first and Black attacked, eager to bring out knights with swords and bishops with power to threaten far away spaces. But White knows that simple pawns can be powerful pieces, especially when they stand together. And the most powerful piece can be resurrected.
And most of all, I like that White sees the end game. For all his storm and fire, Black cannot win.