"One ought, everyday at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture and speak a few reasonable words." --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Tag, You're It!

"The more laws and restrictions there are,
the more people are impoverished.
The sharper men's weapons,
the more trouble in the land.
The more artful and crafty the plan,
the stranger the outcome.
The more authoritarian a system,
the more outlaws appear.
Yet, if I take no action, people are reformed.
If I enjoy peace, people become honest.
If I do nothing, people become rich.
If I do not impose myself upon people,
they become themselves.
--Lao Tsu
Tao Te Ching, 57th verse
Do you remember when you played Tag as a kid? Did you ever play with kids so bent on being in charge and/or winning that they kept making rules? Maybe you were that kid--I know I was a couple times. It starts out relatively harmless but before you know it, no one can even play the game!

No running outside the lines. No moving once you’re tagged. If you run in a circle, you’re automatically out, etc. The rules can get pretty outlandish!

Then it dawns on you. If everyone obeys all these ridiculous rules, no one can even move! So, first you try cheating a little here and there, but even that isn’t very fun. Any time you make a move someone shouts, “That doesn’t count, you cheated!”

Before you know it, everyone is reminiscing about the good-old, original game of Tag. You know, when the game was actually enjoyable. And finally there’s a collective decision to drop all the new rules and get back to playing and having fun.

I think that’s the point of the quote. An overabundance of rules and/or controls set up to shield yourself or others from problems can seriously limit enjoyment, increase resentment, and even create criminals and cheating. But when you let things be, no one has to resent the imposed limitations; no one feels the need to cheat; everyone is free to be themselves.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think we need to eliminate rules all together. Take the Tag analogy for example, if there were NO rules, there wouldn’t even BE a game! And I’m certainly not suggesting that the ONLY reason there are criminals and cheaters is because of the overabundance of rules. Some people cheat and raise mayhem from the get-go.

But sometimes don’t you think we’d all be better off if we all just went back to the good-old, original game?

Maybe every problem we encounter doesn’t need an immediate solution. Maybe somebody doesn’t have to pay every time something goes wrong. Maybe we can just enjoy life instead of trying so hard to mold the game to our benefit. In the end, isn’t the possibility of being tagged and taking turns being ‘it’ what makes the game fun?

Let it be. “The problem is not that there are problems. The problem is expecting otherwise and thinking that having problems is a problem." --Theodore Rubin

Related Posts:
C.S. Lewis Sunday - Resistance: The Measure of Strength
The Freedom Paradox 
C.S. Lewis Sunday – Morality and Peace
C.S. Lewis Sunday - Fuel

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