|(c) by William Wetmore|
There is a time to score and a time not to score according to Solomon. What he actually said was, "To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven," but it means the same thing. I worked with abused and emotionally disturbed kids for almost a decade as a therapeutic recreation director at a residential treatment center. I taught the kids to play games like baseball where there was plenty of scoring. We even fielded a team in the local youth league. We kept score. The kids lost a lot. Some of my colleagues thought this was a bad thing for kids with already low self-esteem.
The telling moment one day was when the scheduled team confused their schedule and only half of them showed up for the game. We had the field for a couple of hours, so those that showed up decided to play anyway. We mixed up the teams and played a joyful game of softball for two hours. The good players were helping teach the poorer players (mostly those on my team) and we had such a blast that we totally forgot to keep score.
I started an equestrian program for emotionally disturbed children that everyone said was insane. They were certain the kids would run away on the horses or get themselves hurt or abuse the animals. What people don't understand about horses is that they teach their riders as much as their riders teach them. Horses score you on how well you ride and the consequences are immediate and more than a little disconcerting.
So, if our best game was unscored and our most therapeutic activity didn't post numbers to a scoreboard, am I saying there is no value to games that have no score? Not at all. The unscored pickup game I played with my treatment center ball team was probably the most therapeutic of the year, but it would not have been so without its having been set within the framework of the scored games. I'm saying there is no value to games that have no point. The score of a game may well be whether or not you accomplish a task. The score for the unscored game was mutual understanding and helping each other learn the game. The score for horseback riding was a successful ride in which the horse went where you wanted it to.
I took a group of kids out once to the woods to build a trail. We cut the trail, cleared the brush, lined the trail with logs and then wheeled in sawdust to fill in the trail between the logs. It took weeks to cut a two mile trail. The "score" was riding down the trail on horseback and knowing we'd built that trail with our own hands. No one got paid. Everybody did what they could. The stronger guys pushed the wheelbarrows. The smaller kids spread the sawdust and pitched branches aside. Those of us who could use machete's and axes cut the branches and brush back.
|My kids trying out the new trail.|
In the opposite way, the athletics departments of our schools have gone too far by making the individual all important and reducing the lesser players to a supporting role. We elevate our stars to a lofty and privileged stature and in the process the stars forget that they are, or at least should be, part of a team. This also is an essential precursor to the formation of a collectivist state in that this teaches that some should be elevated in status over the mere rabble (Marx called them the proletariat) because of their special and genetically superior genes. These elevated special people then become the privileged caste who are charged with managing the snowdrift.
"There lies the maddening ambiguity of our faith as it must appear to outsiders," says Lewis. "It sets its face relentlessly against our natural individualism; on the other hand, it gives back to those who abandon individualism, an eternal possession of their own personal being, even of their bodies." When at last we renounce both the collectivist's "precious snowflake" notion of "individualism" and the equally destructive notion that some of us are superior by birthright, we may then move on to achieve a state of true selfhood. When we submit our will to God, we get it back from Him, scrubbed clean of all the old grime and with all the psychological entanglements we've accumulated over a lifetime pruned away. Everything that has all along prevented us from achieving our true individuality is removed and we may, by our own unencumbered free will choose to fit ourselves snugly into the very place in the universe for which we were all along intended.
(c) 2013 by Tom King