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Finding Common Ground

I never liked Monopoly as a kid. My impatient little self couldn’t be trifled with a never-ending game that teetered between jail time and free cash. (The only thing I liked was the thimble – thanks to Peter Pan perhaps?) But as I grew older, I learned to appreciate the Parker brother’s commercialization of a game that, quite ironically, was created to illustrate the negative aspects of monopolies, which concentrate wealth in the hands of the few. While it was created as a tool to defenestrate monopolizing landlords, figuratively speaking, of course, Monopoly the board game seems to have taken on another role entirely: by encouraging players to accrue assets, Monopoly seems to to teach people how to handle their finances or, more tantalizingly (to most?), how to get rich. Considering the international popularity of the game (according to Yehuda, there are 1911 official and unofficial Monopolies), I find it safe to assume that the appeal of this game, beyond its personalization, is the one common denominator that binds all people of all races of all religions and of all denominations together: Money. By the same token, Monopoly hones in on one more binding aspect of the human race: Jail. It’s less glorious, but it’s a fact. About 10 million people are imprisoned worldwide, not counting totalitarian regimes and the like. And the rest of use, I’m sure, prefer to avoid it.

And now we come to the point of today’s post. How do we find common ground in a world so diverse and with such a monstrous population? How do we foster change when we’re really so different? We eat different foods, we sleep at different hours, we think different thoughts, we speak different languages, we believe in different gods, we play different games, we use different currencies. You get the point. And that’s where the Parkers hit the nail on the head. Jail. It’s the one place neither you nor I want to find ourselves in, but it’s fact and some people will end up there and other others won’t. Which is why we all vie for the Get-Out-Of-Jail card. And Money. It’s the one thing that, no matter who we are or what our fight is, we can all agree on. Money satisfies wants and needs. It is a derivative of our survival instinct. In some places, money means life. In other places, money means more Starbucks – a survival of sorts. Anyhow, you want money, I need money. You need money, I want money. No argument there. If it was only as easy as passing Go.

Okay. So here’s the bottom line (all puns intended): the common denominator of all people around the globe is to:

  1. Accumulate Money
  2. Avoid Jail

Now, if we want to create change for the better, to make the world a better place, we need to appeal to these effectively primal impulses. For better or for worse, it seems to me that the only way to make waves is through monetary and legal coercion. Because that’s the only thing we can agree on. Don’t you agree?


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