My horse-loving 8 year old daughter received the Horse-oply game for Christmas. Horse-oply is just Monopoly with a veneer of horses. The board and cards are changed to horsey things but it is basically the same soul-killing game of merciless capitalism. I had forgotten how soul-killing Monopoly is because I haven’t played it for 30 years or more. We, of course, could not deny my daughter playing it at least once before it was buried deep in a closet and marked for Goodwill and somebody else’s problem. So we set aside a few precious hours on Sunday afternoon to do the deed.
Cross posted at Pockets of the Future
Crossposted at Dkos
Since my children have not wasted time in their youth playing such games as I did and since some of them are not old enough to do the math and read the cards, a lion’s share of the game fell on me. This only made it all the more soul-killing. By the time all of the properties had been acquired, the game had gotten ‘unhh.’ (This is a term my kids use when a game no longer has any fun left in it.) I helped move the game along by brokering a series of trades so that monopolies could be formed and houses and hotels could be purchased – or in this case, so that straw bales and barns could be purchased. The youngest player, our seven year old who bought up 30% of the properties at the start of the game, mercifully and gleefully put an end to it after 3 frustrating hours. And we knew nothing new about horses or farming when it was all over. The game was what it appeared to be when we looked at the box, i.e. just another excuse to purchase the same tired old game of greed that taught us all how to be slum lords in our youth. The Horse-opoly game was just one more material item that was produced at a much greater cost than we are permitted to see, the consumption of which left us worse off than we were before, and the trashing of which will cause a temporary headache for us and a permanent headache for the earth’s inhabitants.
Interestingly, after the game ended my wife told me she had something to watch on the computer. It was a 20 minute video on our linear economic system called The Story of Stuff. I suggest you watch it if you haven’t already. Over 250,000 people watched it in its first week of free distribution. It documents with a fast-paced, information and concept- filled narrative what I think many of us kind of know. What the world has is a consumption problem, whether that is the parts of the world that do the consuming or the parts of the world that are sacrificed so that we may do the consuming. Above all else, “the system” is about getting us to buy, consume and throw away. This crosses political, racial, religious and all other lines. Consuming is meant for all and we are all expected to do our part regardless of who we are, what we believe in or what we look like. Global warming, the War in Iraq, the War on Terror and the nationwide trend towards epidemic obesity and cancer, to name a few, are just a very short list of symptoms of the wreckage caused by our overwhelming focus on consumption. They are only a few of the warning signs of the disastrous direction that putting desires at the forefront of our civilization has in store for us.
The party is over. We either choose to adopt radical changes to our lifestyle by first and foremost throwing off our collective attitude of entitlement or we face the inevitable massive reduction of the population on the planet. I am sure we are not the first species to face this predicament. Either way, I have no doubt that Nature has an exit strategy for us.
The Story of Stuff does an incredible job of making the connections between extraction, production, distribution, consumption and disposal crystal clear. It also makes crystal clear the implications of this 50 year old approach to life with regards to the future of the earth and our future on the earth as a species.
My wife blogs about the video here. She encourages readers to learn the story and then change the story by looking within for a paradigm shift about what “living simply” might really mean.