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Recovering backpacker, Cornwallite at heart, political enthusiast, catalyst, writer, husband, father, community volunteer, unabashedly proud Canadian. Every hyperlink connects to something related directly or thematically to that which is highlighted.

Monday 8 September 2014

The Contact Sport Called Society

Politics is a contact sport, we're told.  Gotta be tough and prepared to take hits if you want to get ahead.

Fair enough.  This is why all the War Room stuff enters into the equation - if you want to get ahead in a contact sport (with no referee) you should look to the most aggressive contact sport there is for inspiration, right?

That would be war.

At the same time, we have this whole "you gotta be tough on your own" thing.  Pressure roles downhill for the people without access and power to carry more than their weight to get ahead - they have to sell hard, they have to learn more, they have to push, push, push to earn a seat the social table along with the well-to-do.

Except that isn't how war works, nor sports in general.  Missing in this notion of "hunt what you kill" and "survival of the fittest" is the realization that activities ranging from American football to war are team sports. 

Activity is coordinated, resources shared.  Even Canada is offering transport ships to help in the Ukraine, and we're supposedly the world leaders in stand-on-your-own-two-feet ness.

More than that, even, is that in war and sports, there is nothing more important than the maintenance of morale.

When your troops falter, the entire effort fails.  This is why War Room politics (and war) spends so much time trying to crush the morale of its foes; divide and conquer, etc.  You're on your own, they will tell us - you can't trust your neighbours.  Or, they'll tell us that only they can set the ship aright, the implication being that such is beyond our own ability.

If we're all on our own, then the weak fall.  If you aren't physically or psychologically up to the challenge of living in the war zone of life, then you're of no use to the gene pool - be gone.

Thing is, life throws it's curve balls.  The toughest soldier can lose a limb in combat, or suffer the invisible slings and arrows of psychological injury.  Should they be left behind?

Doing so sends a chilling message to the entire force - that there is no us, that you are not protected, that you're on your own.

If that's the case, though - what are we fighting for?  Our time would be better spent looking to ourselves because, you know, there's no such thing as society.

And the whole divides, except for those who stick together.  They have the advantage and will be damned sure to press it.

Look at ISIS - they feel their foes are weak and can be intimidated.  Look at Russia - they know their enemies are too focused on internal polls and economic wins to united against the threat if neo-imperialism.

But then look even bigger than that.  It just so happens there is a bigger threat out there that instills fear, saps morale and doesn't target weak links, but everyone, indiscriminately.

Hurricanes.  Typhoons.  Earthquakes, ice storms, floods - they impact everyone.  Both pauper and king can be carried away by the storm; no riches nor position is enough to ground you against a strong wind.

In every severe weather event, something happens.  

People come together, as if it's naturally instinctive to do so.  We don't turn into Lord of the Flies - not unless the wake of the storm remains unadressed for extended periods of time and there is no leadership to rally around.

We share food and shelter, pool our labour, care for each other's wounded and work, collaboratively, to keep morale high.

Why?  It's easy - because we know that our best chance at weathering the storm is by working together.

It's that - what we, as individuals, can contribute to the whole - that matters most.  It's when we put the good of the whole first that we ensure no back is unwatched.  

And that's how we win.

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