The Game We Play

And who gets the bed
Added: Saturday, 11 October 2008

watch original V-Blog in Persian

watch original V-Blog in German

In my last v-blog I described a family reunion at my in-laws' house and mentioned that in the end it doesn't matter whether you slept on the floor or on the bed because our time together is so limited. A few people found that a little challenging. Because it seems that so much of our earthly existence seems to revolve around just that – moving up from the floor to the bed; making it big, growing financially, having comfort. And yes, of course it's easy for the relatively well off to say "wealth doesn't matter" when they're not the ones turning around every penny. But what I was trying to express with that statement was the relativity of things in our life. And it depends on your outlook. If you believe that life and 'meaning' begins and ends here on this physical earth, then it will naturally be more important to you to achieve material comfort or luxury than someone who sees this as a very temporary station along a journey that is everlasting.

My view is that if you take our little family reunion as a metaphor for our time here on this earth, bearing in mind that there is something that comes thereafter, then your priorities tend to start shifting. And you realize that it's not so hard to sacrifice things for other people because it gives you pleasure to see them comfortable and happy. If we truly saw each other as one human family, cells of one organism, we wouldn't feel jealousy or competitiveness, we'd look out for the wellbeing of the other in more selfless ways.

But I think that we're paralyzed when it comes to looking at the world in that way. Not only do we not see each other as one family (Donald Trump doesn't give a toot about me, why should I consider him my brother?), we also accept the status quo as though we'd reached the end of human evolution!

Cover image I was speaking to Michael Karlberg the other day, author of 'Beyond the Culture of Contest' and he said that we seem to be suffering from a sort of inertia and paralysis of the mind when it comes to viewing our world. We look at what's underneath our societal structures: namely a win/lose, adversarial culture of contest that favors some and not others and we accept this as a necessary evil. In our democratic systems, for example, we simply accept the consequences of our adversarial culture, such as the subordination of governance to market forces, the oversimplification of complex issues, short-term planning horizons and a loyalty that is limited to constituencies and that can't possibly meet the needs of a world that has become so interdependent that it demands collective solutions to ecological and economic challenges. And we say it's naïve to think that we could change our paradigms and move towards mutualism and diversity with a more decentralized notion of power – at the very least until we've solved the problems and inequalities that the world faces.

But it's those very systems and paradigms we keep subscribing to that are keeping us sick! And the world won't heal or become more 'equal' until we change our very assumptions about our human nature and relationships. So it's actually naïve to think that playing the game the way we always have will heal anything. It's naïve to think that peoples' needs must first be met before we attempt to change the system, because it's the very prevalent order that is keeping those needs from being met. And it's naïve to think change is not possible, because that would be proposing that we've come to the end of human and societal evolution. That we've reached the end of history. Who can tell us we've reached the end of history? Perhaps it's the end of the world as we know it – but it sure is also the beginning of a new world as we've not known it and it's our responsibility to quit the old game and try alternatives.

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