Gather round and listen to this true tale of summer camp. It’s actually true. I swear this is not a lead in to sexual innuendo. It was generic day camp, not band camp.
At this day camp we played a lot of four square. The thing was, we played it inside a cabin. The cabin was square. There was no furniture. There were built-in benches all around the inner edge. It had a roof to block the rain. The square was already painted very clearly on the wooden floor by campers of years past. It was an arena that beckoned for the red Voit.
However, because there were walls in this cabin all sorts of crazy situations developed. Is it in or out if it bounces off the benches or the ceiling? What if it goes out of the cabin? Are double taps and other cheap maneuvers permitted? What if someone sitting on a bench interferes?
In all the time of this summer camp, nobody had bothered to actually solve these problems. Nobody took games are seriously as I did, and still do. The solution in place was simply that whoever was in the ace position had the serve and dictated the rules. The game changed rules every time the serve changed hands. The basic idea was that when you earned the serve you would choose rules favorable to yourself, so that you would keep the serve for as long as possible. It was the simple children’s logic of winner’s ball.
The other kids didn’t want a fair game of skill. They didn’t want to have to earn victory. They wanted victory handed to them on a silver platter. To them it had been a game of using trickery, cheap maneuvers, and hax. I, on the other hand, had always played honestly. I felt righteous, even in defeat. I wouldn’t use a bullshit double-tap or spike, even when it was permitted. I told myself I only lost because they were all cheap and/or cheating. I was always quickly eliminated.
One rainy day most activities were canceled, and we played four square for many hours. Perhaps for the first time, I became the ace. I had begrudgingly played by their rules until now, but things were about to change. In about five minutes I rewrote the rules of the game to be not completely broken and unfair. I laid down the law on all sorts of exceptional situations that had occurred, and could theoretically occur. It was a four square revolution.
Now you might think my new regime would have pissed everyone off. They would have moaned and groaned because of the change. They would have called me names and not obeyed my rulings. I even expected it at the time. I was happy to just play a fair game, even if it were to last only a single round.
After I laid down the law I actually won a few rounds as the other kids adjusted out of habits that were now illegal. Of course I was eventually eliminated from the square, and the king moved to the ace position. It was time for a new ruler to lay down the law.
Two words did he then utter.
You may or may not have to play the game to win the game. But once you are in charge, you can dismantle the game. Obviously the dictatorship of four square is relatively simple, but it is often frightening how often schoolyard politics resemble world politics. Only those with the power in the system can fix the system. If those in power truly hated the state of the game, they could change it. The fact that politicians not only play the crooked game, but keep the game crooked, means that they prefer the crooked game. That is an undeniable fact. They may say they hate the system, but if they do not fix it, then they support it.
Remember, if they are in power, that means they have won the game of politics at least once, and probably many times. Why would they change the rules of this unfair and corrupt game when they themselves are already so good at it? Fixing the system likely means removing themselves from power. Anyone like myself who would change the game can not possibly get into a position to do so. Our refusal to cross ethical boundaries makes it next to impossible to attain a position of power.
Some politicians are more corrupt than others. Some are clearly more preferable than others. Yet, any one that plays the game of politics, and does not at least attempt to fix it or even speak out against it, is, in my eyes, a corrupt piece of shit. The level of stink may vary, but shit is shit.
Now, my rules didn’t last forever. They were not written down, and I only taught them once. Some rules were forgotten or misinterpreted. Often kids would reach the ace and say “Scott’s Rules plus spike on serve,” or some other nonsense. They knew my rules made the game more fair and more fun, but they could not rid themselves of corruption when in a position of power. They wanted to win, and had no qualms about modifying the rules to their advantage. It wasn’t enough to fix the system once. It had to be constantly maintained lest it fall back into disrepair.
Look, ye mighty.