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The Game is Rigged

For some, the game is rigged...

Cities in the U.K. have been set ablaze and the authorities say the criminals will be caught and punished. Vancouver rioted too, ostensibly because of a Stanley Cup, but I’m not buying that.

In my last post I wrote about community raising children into functional adulthood. Like an organism continually replacing dying cells, skin cells and muscle cells, blood, heart, lung, nerve, and indeed every other organ’s cells. There is living continuity in the organism, while constant turnover of the myriad individual cells that comprise it.

Some would observe that while there is living continuity in the organism there is also aging, but that is another matter to look into…. Or is it?

Let me tell you about Davis, who hung around the Omphalos Cafe reading from morning to night for several years. He was quiet and intense and wore a lot of black. Before he discovered the Cafe he called himself an anarchist. He had gotten himself into quite a bit of trouble at some point, but by the time he had landed in Xenon’s Bible Room the flame of his anger had died down somewhat.

I remember him telling me about an event from his childhood, when he was about ten years old.

Every so often on a Saturday night his parents would have another couple over for a few drinks and a game of bridge at the kitchen table. Well one night the other couple was over and he was next door at the neighbor’s playing with a friend. When he arrived home it was clear the adults had been drinking their fill. They were loud and boisterous, but they weren’t playing bridge, they were playing Monopoly.

He doesn’t remember who’s idea it was, but the four adults laughingly called him over and invited him to play. They gave him a token and set him up with the proper amount of starting cash. With lots of hilarity the game proceeded, Davis taking his regular turn in the order.

Now the parents must have already been playing for upwards of an hour, so every turn our young hero took he landed on someone else’s property and was obliged to pay. There was laughter from the adults, but at first he didn’t clue in to what was going on. Gradually, of course, his money dwindled.

As he grew more frustrated, and the laughter grew with each passing turn, it dawned on his ten year old psyche that he’d been set up. He had no chance of winning, the game was rigged.

So finally, before his last dollar disappeared, he jumped up, gave a great heave, and ran off as the parents angrily protested the table’s upsetting.

‘After I finished school and was out living on my own,’ he told me, ‘the world felt exactly like that game of Monopoly those many years ago. All I wanted to do was smash it. Burn it.’

He didn’t call what he did arson, he told me once; they were ‘prescribed burns.’ That was a term he had borrowed from his time spent in Banff National Park, and it referred to the fires the Wardens set in order to help the forest regenerate.

In prison he took to reading, and I guess he stumbled into the Omphalos Cafe the day of his release.