The Game has no rules. Not really. I suppose you could say that the one rule is that there are no rules.
Not everyone can play The Game. So, that might count as a rule about entering and leaving The Game.
To Enter the Game, you need to be a Player.
And, to Leave the Game, you need to die. (You can’t “quit.”)
Those are the two rules about whether you can play, but there are no rules within The Game.
But how does one become a Player?
Fame is not enough. Wealth is not enough. Good looks, or sharp wits, or intelligence, or encyclopedic knowledge, or special talents? No, that is not enough.
What is important is that you have Power and that you will execute your Power without regard to any human ethics or sense of fair play or human sensibility.
But what exactly is this Game?
To answer that, we must look at its origins.
Have you ever been bored?
I certainly was — as a kid. But not for long. Because when I was bored — no TV, no friends, and long before video games or the Internet, I would read or I would make up a game and play that game. As an adult, however, I’ve been very busy as most of us have. I have plenty to challenge me, entertain me, make me laugh, and make me cry, both real and artificial.
Likewise, I imagine that most of you have been more tired or worried or overjoyed or experiencing any one of a hundred emotions much more often than you’ve been bored.
But let’s imagine that you had been born into different circumstances. Let’s say that you were born into so much power and wealth that you could afford literally anything provided only your parents approved. And, once you could carry cash around on your own, you could even circumvent that restriction fairly easily. You may not have been able to buy true love, but you could certainly buy enough sexual favors to keep you satisfied. You could access any drug you felt like without any fear of consequence so long as you didn’t do anything boringly inconvenient like OD.
Because, you see, if you did overdose, it would call attention to the fact that you and your mates could use drugs without a meaningful fine and without any jail time, provided only that you ditched your parents’ mansion for a month or two and instead lived in another mansion that would set you straight. Similarly, many of life’s challenges that most people have to face are not really challenges for such folk. They don’t have to worry about getting into college, or getting a job, or being popular, or finding a mate, or getting drafted into the army, or getting sick and not having to be able to afford the drugs, or getting arrested for such trivialities as shoplifting, doing illicit drugs, speeding, sexual assault, or vandalism.
Human nature being what it is, even this kind of upbringing will not produce only sociopaths. Some people from such circumstances do turn out to be wonderful, productive, generous human beings. After all, they will get access to a marvelous education and if they are thoughtful, they may see that the world would actually be a better place if more people could live better lives. That happens a lot.
But not always. Many people born into such circumstances will not feel true love toward another human being. They will not take advantage of the educational opportunities by learning how to be a better human being. Some might learn particular skills like finance or law that they feel will help keep them in power. But education for them, like everything else, is only a means to an end.
Imagine how you would feel if you had everything you could possibly want? Ecstatic? For a while perhaps. Happy? Maybe. But again, the way most of us are wired, with zero challenge there is zero sense of true accomplishment. You would be bored. Since real life offers no challenges, you’d like to play a game.
The Game with no rules that is only open to the very bored and very powerful.
To be a Player, you must have enough power to make it interesting to the other Players. And, you must be willing to play unethically. Otherwise, you’d be boring because you’d be so easy to beat.
Just because you can’t be a Player doesn’t mean you don’t have a part in The Game. You do have a part. You are the dice. You are the cards. You are the little tokens that more around the board. There are 7 billion of you. It’s a complicated game! And because it’s so complicated and so open-ended, it never really gets boring for The Players.
Although the game is open ended, there are certain patterns of moves that recur quite regularly. A common move, for instance, is to start a war. Another is to steal a great deal of wealth. Another is to “take over” another player — to “own” them so that they have to do what you say.
These “moves” in The Game, of course, can cause great pain and suffering to millions of people in the real world. So what? Many of them are also trophy hunters. It’s kind of a signal to other potential players: “No, I don’t care about life. But I care about winning. And I won over this lion (or elephant). So there!”
Similarly, The Players really don’t care about how the people feel who die in a war or what it means to their kin; not any more than you would care if you’re playing monopoly. You might care about what token you use. I think the train and the dog are quite popular; the iron not so much.
Similarly, The Players often have some sort of persona that they prefer; gangster, thug, bon vivant, playboy, philanthropist, celebrity, politician, professor, entrepreneur, etc. Somewhat inconveniently, their persona shares a body with their real character so if the persona is mobbed, the real person beneath gets rushed, and touched, and man-handled. A great deal of time and effort goes into protecting The Player from the consequences of their actions in “the real world.”
I cannot see the whole board, but it’s clear that The Players moves right now are, among other things, destroying the ecosystems that we rely on. By the very nature of The Game and The Players, they couldn’t care less provided the “real world” consequences will occur after their death. It’s no accident, of course, that most of The Players who are on-board with ecological suicide are old, white men who are not going to live much longer anyway. It’s of absolutely zero interest to them whether people die in hurricanes, or lose their crops, or their houses are flooded —- BOR-ing! What really matters — to them — is winning the game and “taking over” other players along the way.
If that’s all that matters to us — the dice, the cards, the board, the checkers — if all that we care about is whose team is winning The Game and nothing about the consequences for billions of human beings and for other living beings on this earth — then that’s what will be.
But if we do care, then it’s time to end The Game.
Before it’s too late.
In other words, now.
Series on SHRUGS (Super Hyper Really Ultra Greedy Swindlers).
Post on how interconnected all life on earth is.
An antidote to boredom: gratitude.
Carl D'Agostino said:
My first thought was that of how few of that 7 billion are actually game players. Oh, some may have their little fiefdoms but most of us are insignificant little molecules that get moved around for this or that by the game’s players.
Wealth and power are becoming concentrated in fewer and fewer hands at the expense of nature and billions of others. What a dire situation with the few sociopaths in control. Playing with lives of others for their entertainment. You have depicted the problem well through allegory. Keep writing!
Thanks for your encouragement.
This is the most chilling analysis of the 1% I’ve ever read. Thank you. I feel as if my eyes have been opened for the very first time.
It’s actually quite unpleasant so I’m going to distance myself by retreating into theory. Perhaps this recurring effect of human nature is where the myths of capricious demigods came from. It may also explain why the genes that underlie the tendency to sociopathy have continued throughout human history.
-sigh- Actually, I don’t feel any better. 😦
I think that this sort of thing has been going on for a long time. But now we’re at the point where letting the game continue may result in horrendous impact on life, human and otherwise.
I agree. I think history is littered with examples of inequality becoming too great and brute force being used to restart the Game with new Players. In our case, it may end up being climate change.
Reblogged this on Meeka's Mind and commented:
I’m taking the unprecedented step of reblogging a post from a complete stranger, because it is so chilling.
The stranger is Peter Ironswood, and his essay is about the 1% who are so powerful, they could be demigods in our supposedly enlightened world.
This is a must read.
Thanks for reading, commenting and reblogging.
My pleasure? Nice to meet you.
Bette A. Stevens said:
Chilling and thought-provoking…
Audrey Driscoll said:
I think these are the guys who are financing research into immortality, by whatever means are possible. And then moving to a different planet, and trashing it.
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