Battlegrounds vs Playgrounds

Good vs Evil can be War or Play - Choose!

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When we think of the word inclusive, we think of race, ability or lack thereof, privilege or underprivileged, etc. There’s another dichotomy that is timeless and has polarised more people than any other distinction in the history of mankind.

Battlegrounds

This is an eternal tale that has pitted not just humans but gods against each other. The only place where they do meet and actively engage is the battleground.

In what is often termed as a holy war, in epic proportions, of course, the two forces engage in heated and protracted battles until one side eventually wins. Only to begin again after a lull in the fighting to challenge the other.

This constant tug of war causes distress, pain, and suffering. But it is also the very flywheel of energy that the universe runs on. This constant friction between the two polarities powers the entire world as we know it.

Playgrounds

We all have fond memories of playing tug of war and it doesn’t really bring back bloody nightmares as wars do. Perhaps that’s the secret right there. Transform the arena of battle into a place of play.

This seems very simple but definitely not easy at all. Each side plays by their own rules which the other refuses to acknowledge let alone accept. The distrust for each other is only superseded by disdain.

In playgrounds, the game is enjoyed and celebrated more than the results. The players enjoy each other’s company before play and after play. The only time we’re at each other’s throats in a playground is when we’re actually playing.

Never the Twain Shall Meet

How can we use this camaraderie that we enjoy in playgrounds and with playmates in battlegrounds and with enemies?

Many battle hardy soldiers will speak of the warrior’s code and ethos. The adherence to a similar cadence of engagement and disengagement during protracted battle. There seems to be a consensus that even arch enemies agree upon.

If it is indeed possible for two warring entities to find common ground however small, I find it strange that we cannot build upon that and find greater harmony together.

A Tale of Two Cities

The battle between good and evil may not seem like World War III anymore, but it’s everywhere we want it to be. Forget political-ideological battles. There are battles we each fight on an individual level every day.

Bullying. Domestic violence. Office harassment. Relationship friction. Road rage.

Each one of these battles become part of a larger collective of hate towards the other. A binary battle between good and evil as always.

Gangs have turf wars. Politicians have elections. But today the lines between good and evil are blurred with full-blown wars being replaced by convert insurgency. Heroes in movies displaying shades of grey and villains showcasing hearts of gold.

And we are still driving our society farther apart by excluding the elements we don’t like from society. Prisons are meant to correct such elements but they are not corrective in the truest sense of the word. Rather they are punitive and cause more harm than help make the world a more inclusive space.

Break Thru to the Other Side

The answer I believe is playgrounds where people are allowed, even encouraged to engage with each other from opposite sides of the fence.

To discover the reality, the context, and the texture of life on the other side. In any and every form of play. It could be an intellectual debate. A rap battle perhaps. Maybe a dance-off. Or just a good old game of ball under the sun.

To make things fun and shake things up a little, get each member to play for the opposite team. So you’re breaking the boundaries of the identity you’ve assumed to be you.

Try this with someone you hate. Maybe the guy at work who always parks in your favorite spot. The neighbor whose guts you hate. Invite him/her to a game where you’d do your best to one-up the other, of course. The only difference is that before the game and after the game you treat each other as playmates and friends would - enjoy a cuppa or grab a bite.

Do this once every week with everyone you hate until there’s no one left.

When you look deeper within, you’ll find even with ourselves, we tend to spend more time in self-loathing. To the extent that it becomes a daily ritual; rigorously and devoutly adhered to. While charity always begins at home, sometimes it’s easier to start with outsiders. Spit out the hate candy and let me know how this experiment goes. Valentine’s Day is around the corner after all.

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