Compete or Connect?

Monopoly BoardWhen I was ten, my younger sisters and I all got chicken-pox at the same time. My mom helped to keep us entertained at home by playing with us the board game Monopoly. My sister Nita and I were great little capitalists, and played the game to win. We would try to get as many properties and houses and hotels as we could, so we could charge huge rents when the other players landed on our spots. The goal was to bankrupt the other players until one of us was the last player in the game.

But my mom and my sister Vonnie had a totally different approach. They were tenderhearted, and didn’t want anyone to have to leave the game. So if someone was about to lose all their money, my mom and Vonnie would loan them some of their own Monopoly money to keep them in the game.

I remember this now and think—what a picture in miniature of the conflict of values in our larger society! One message we learn, even as children, is to try to get as much as we can, and try to win out over all the other people. Compete and consume. But my mother was bringing us another value, one that many parents want to teach their children, the value of connection and cooperation. She wanted to keep all of us at the table, so that everyone had a good time while we played our games.

What changes when we wake up to the reality that we are all connected to one another? 

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