Friday, June 27, 2008

From Horseshoes to Cooperation


Years ago among our old college and work chums, friends and family, horseshoes was king.

A sport that wasn't defined by age or athletic prowess. As long as the focus was there, one could play their whole life and the competitive ability didn't seem to change much.

Great cheap fun, some exercise, fierce rivalries and a lot of trash talk where winning counted.

We manicured the pits and in my back yard with plenty of shade and night lights, we would often go on for hours on end. There were several other places to play so we imagined it as going on tour when we hit the road to someone else's "home court".

I never imagined giving up the sport or losing that competitive fire. After all there are not many other physical games an old man can continue with and maintain a high skill level.

But sometimes things change. Not because of the physical aspects but because of the mental ones.

The first diminishing of the competitiveness was in 1989. We lost some property that was such an intense ongoing project that winning was pushed to the back burner. We continued playing again but the feeling was just not the same.

Then in 1993 we lost a loved one so close to us that words cannot describe the devastation. It was the day the game ended for all intents and purposes. Competition and winning meant nothing compared to tragedy and loss.

We tried playing a few more times but without my intensity the others around me picked up on it and the past fun was gone. Even my long term partner in the tournaments, my dad, reflected me in what I felt.

The game died and there was no resurrection.

This brings me to the point of this story.
Competition vs. Cooperation.

When one loses the desire for competition, what's left?
It seems to me that the opposite value of cooperation just might come into play. After all, we still need desires. They make our life worth living.

The political arena as "sport" is an example of displaced desire.
My team, my side is better than yours. We win, you lose....rah, rah, rah.
Left/right, black/white, this religion or that, back and forth, promises made, promises broken.

I'll tell you as I once told a couple of Navy auditors a few years ago. They were nitpicking my place of business to death. I stood up and walked out of the room saying "We're on the same side here". They were friendly and cooperative after that.

We are all on the same side here. Lives are at stake. Whole economies and our perceived idealistic way of life is in danger.

We sit around and debate which liar and criminal to vote for when we know full well it won't make a bit of difference.

Divisiveness is an important tool used against us by those who not only want to take our money but also our lives. Tyranny cannot exist without this tool.

I'm tired of this "sport" of politics where the losers far outnumber the winners.
We have the increasing numbers if not yet the desire to act.

Cooperation should lead us to fulfill our duties as citizens as described in the preamble of our Declaration of Independence.
"That whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness."

This ain't horseshoes folks, close doesn't count.


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