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Is Life A Game?

Is Life A Game?

Why someone isn’t a sore loser for complaining when the game was not fairly played.

“(We are talking about) a party which has clearly forgotten the original meaning of its own name. They (the Democrats) are losing on all fronts and looking elsewhere for things to blame. In my view this, how shall I say it, degrades their own dignity. You have to know how to lose with dignity.”
-Vladimir Putin

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The idea of life being a game is a regular expression. The problem with this idea is that excuses for behaviors that have negative effects on other people come all to easily, bringing on sayings designed to dismiss responsibility, like “It’s nothing personal”, “It’s only business”, and so on. Seeing life as a game may be helpful in not becoming too attached to the outcomes and becoming resentful, but our words and actions have real consequences. Rationalizing the consequences away is dishonest.

What’s worse than rationalizing, is when you effected the game by questionable means. In the case of the 2016 US presidential election we have a winner who won the, arguably antiquated, Electoral College yet lost the popular vote. Part of the core foundation of the United States is the concept that all “men (today we understand this means all people) are created equal”. To have a free and just society it is necessary to defend this equality, and it is only defended by rules which we call laws.

In every game there are rules. Have you ever tried playing a game without defining the rules, or tried to play a game with someone who says they know the rules, but then it turns out that you were each playing by different sets of rules? Things don’t usually turn out well and someone ends up feeling cheated. Or worse, someone actually is cheated. Losing with dignity is the sign of a mature person, but losing without complaint when the game is manipulated is a sign of delusion or ignorance.

The quote at the beginning of this post is from Vladimir Putin. It has been echoed by many conservatives in the US, and is a statement that lacks a certain level of reason. At the very least it’s a statement which does not acknowledge the reality that a person won this particular “game” because the way the system is set up, not because a majority of votes chose the winner, or scored the most points if you want to use the game analogy. This statement is worse because it came from someone whose government purposefully took actions meant to sway the outcome of this “game”. It’s the equivalent of someone who sticks their foot out to trip up a runner who is in the lead against a person they want to win, then shrugs and says “don’t be a sore loser.” If you effected the game with an action illegal according to the rules of the game, then expect the person you tripped to have an issue. Remaining silent in this case would signal a lack of dignity.

In yogic thought this type of deceit and rationalization goes against multiple concepts which are necessary for the elevation of our selves and our world. Remaining silent when we are wronged would perpetuate the violent act of someone violating the rules of the “game”. We must also remain calm in standing up with dignity, and point out the issues presented by the existing rules, in how those rules were violated, and in what we should do to make future “games” more equitable, and thus fair.

Fairness is ensured by creating rules that guarantee a level playing field. Without a level playing field there will always be those who can get away with violence against others, which only inspires more violence. Creating fair rules requires an ability to clearly perceive, and humility to admit how the actions we take affect the world around us. Calling people sore losers in a game you helped manipulate, or are ok with the manipulation of, lacks both of these necessary characteristics. It also lacks basic honesty.

So is life a game? That depends on our view, and our view most likely depends on what results we have received. Personally, I don’t like the analogy of life as a game because it opens the door for treating other people poorly. Many “games” include violent aspects, and all games have losers. An enlightened awareness and way of living, in my view, makes no one a loser, sore or otherwise.

May we all be open and receptive to our highest good,

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