Sunday, May 31, 2009

Freedom of Opportunity

My son Devin (8) and I were playing Pokemon today. The past few weeks I have been showing him how to divide up the cards by color, and select the best proportion of 60 Pokemon, energy, and supporter cards he should use to win. So far, I have won the first 2 games. The first game we randomly divided the supporter cards and I played a purple-green deck, and this time I let Devin play the purple-green deck and I played the blue-pearl deck. Despite the 2 defeats, Devin has taken the loses well.

However, despite my helping Devin play the game better, my wife Ruth wondered if it wouldn't be better for Devin's self-esteem if I let him win every once in a while. Let him win?!! I don't know why these types of comments continue to surprise me. We will have been happily married for 10 years this June. And I knew when I married her that she was a bit of a "social progressive." But, if sometimes a little thing like a card game can suddenly become a metaphor for life and politics and everything that is wrong with America, this is a time.

Even though I disagree on this issue, I do appreciate and value my wife's empathetic perspective. However, I think we have been doing a little too much letting people win in America instead of helping people compete. I mean, who are we kidding if we just lower our expectations for people. And what kind of satisfaction and self-esteem does a person really derive from a victory if they know the game was rigged from the start.

Ruth did say, that her reasoning for wanting me to let Devin win was that she didn't want Devin to take out his frustration on his younger cousin Cameron by endlessly thrashing him every time they play Pokemon together. That is a bit of a red herring. No one wants that. In stead, I am hoping he will do as I have done with him and help his cousin to become a better Pokemon player as well.

This is the difference between equality of opportunity verses equality of results and the Founding Fathers established this nation based on the prior principal over the later. Unfortunately, through LBJ's "great society" and similar socialist legislation since, our country has been focused on lowering expectations and letting people think they are winning at the game of life instead of empowering people to truly succeed.

No comments: