One of my cousins was always the banker whenever we played the “Monopoly” board game. The rest of us didn’t like this, but we went along because we didn’t want grandma to hear us quarreling. Sandy said we had to play the game by her rules because she owned the game.
It never failed that every time we cousins played “Monopoly”, someone would catch Sandy embezzling from the till. Her excuse was that the game was hers, she was the banker so she was entitled to all the money.She said she was being generous by allowing the rest of us to use her money.
Some time later, another cousin brought her own “Monopoly” game. Gladys decided she wanted to play the game according to the printed rules that Parker Brothers provided in the box. Sandy would have none of it, so she left to sulk in another room. The rest of us had a great time playing the game as it was intended to be played.
Everybody, including Sandy, learned important lessons when Gladys stood her ground and insisted that anyone who wanted to play “Monopoly” that afternoon would have to play by the rules, period. All of us, except Sandy, enjoyed the game more and we felt that playing by the rulebook made the game fair for all the players.
I wish I could say that Sandy learned to play fairly whenever we cousins played the board game. That wasn’t the case. She never played “Monopoly” with us ever again. She only played the game with her circle of school mates. I heard that every one of them had to play by Sandy’s rules.
Years later, I would look back at the afternoon when Sandy refused to play “Monopoly” with us. My takeaway was that groups of people get along best when society has fair and equitable rules and that we need to follow those rules. It seemed to me there had been a “mini-revolution” that afternoon. Sandy was the queen, and the rest of us cousins were the rebelling colonists.
It’s worth noting that board games like “Monopoly” have rulebooks that are inflexible. Other games like baseball adjust their rulebooks to keep up with the changing times. Everybody who participates in organized baseball must play by the rules or be ejected from the game. We know Major League Baseball is governed by a commission with oversight by the commissioner. The accepted rules of the game are enforced by umpires. Because everybody plays by the rules, each game is more satisfying for the players and the fans than if each game was played by ad hoc rules put together by each home team.
By now, you probably understand where I’m going with this. For society at large to function best, everybody plays by the rules. Ideally, when those rules are too rigid and exclusive, a democratic republic adjusts the rulebook to include more citizens. In a large, powerful nation like the United States, there is supposed to be oversight ultimately by alert citizens.
Right now, the nation is suffering because too many people are not playing by the country’s rules. Also, some of the people who are entrusted with adjusting the nation’s rules are not playing by the rules; they’re working only for their own or their group’s self-interests. Things get messy when that happens.
Unlike games that have few players, a nation comprised of hundreds of millions of people has a more difficult job of ensuring everyone plays by the rules and that those rules are equitable and fair to everybody.
Games and nations are best when everyone plays by the rules. If those rules are unfair, then they need to be adjusted in a peaceful, organized manner.