Monday, September 14, 2009


The word "pandemic" conjures images of something very bad waiting to spread. In today's world, which is becoming urbanized and travel is easy and world-wide, this is a very real threat. Interestingly, games have popped up around this idea.

There is the flash video game in which you are a virus trying to kill off the world. You are trying to mutate and spread before you can become contained. It's you against the world.

Then there is the board game my wife and I played recently with the Willisses (Shayna - this is for you). In this version, you try and contain the virus. It was interesting because instead of people or teams competing against each other, everybody had to work together to try and stop the virus from spreading. Everybody wins or everybody loses.

Everybody wins or everybody loses. It is a very strange concept when we talk games, and really about our way of life. In other games, you race to get the most points or to get to the finish line. You do what you have to in sports to score more points than the other team. There are winners and there are losers.

And it spills out into other areas of life. We do what we have to to get a better grade than the other people in class. We work harder than co-workers to get the promotion. Bonuses are dealt out by ranking. We compete for attention. Relationships have battlegrounds. If I don't take, someone else will and I will lose out. If I stay with the crowd, I remain average - and who wants average?

What would it be like if you played the game of real life as if everybody wins or everybody loses? You pull hard for that family member; because if they lose, you can't replace family. You go overboard to help the struggling co-worker; because if they get left behind or are fired, the company loses money and you lose learning how to be a great team member.

Standing over others may be the loneliest spot, and ultimately the loser - by making everything a competition we are spreading a pandemic of individuality. Using diverse talents and gifts to help raise the group makes everyone a winner.

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Shayna Willis said...

Doesn't Willi just roll off the tongue better?

I was thinking about this just the other day because I was remembering two neighborhood kids that I was mean to. And I thought, I wonder where they are now? And I hoped that my cruelty hadn't had an impact on their success. They were unlikable, unattractive, and generally unintelligent kids. One of them flunked her test to get into Kindergarten a few times. The other lived in a trailer down the road. None of that makes it right, of course. But what impact could I have had if I had loved them instead of ridiculed them . . . ? And how do I instill this into Sophie?

John Vaught said...

It's hard, isn't it? It is easy to want to compete when you have the competitive advantage; but what happens when you are the lonely underdog that feels like they have already lost in the game of life?