The Games People Play

Lynn Horton is a freelance writer and editor who in another lifetime taught English and Creative Writing at McIntosh High School and later worked in the Starr’s Mill High School Media Center.

Oh my goodness. I was just reminded of a childhood game we used to play in Sunday School, Elementary School, and in Scouts. How could teachers, myself included, be so unaware that “Farmer in the Dell” created horrible insecurity, terror even, in little minds and hearts!
You do remember don’t you, how the Farmer takes a wife (an enviable position), and then the wife takes a child. So sweet to be the child of the farmer and his blushing bride. The child of course takes a nurse who was allowed then to take a dog, the dog, a cat, the cat, a rat, and the rat could choose a cheese. And then, the “cheese stands alone, the cheese stands alone, hi ho the derry o, the cheese stands alone.”
I am one child who was more than once left standing by myself as the others went racing off to play other games, like “Ring Around the Rosy,” a sing-song circle of children which described the horrors of the Black Death. The Rosy rash, an early symptom of the plague, the posies in the pockets to help reduce the smell of rotting flesh, and of course, the threat that all of us will eventually “all fall down” into “ashes, ashes.”  Wow. What a bummer (as the hippies used to say).
Well, today members of the United States Congress argued ad nauseum about who lost or who won the Government Shut-Down Game. Grown men (and a few–very few–women) on both sides of the aisle claimed a “Win” when it was decided by a majority vote in the Senate to keep the wheels turning in the giant engine that makes up Washington, D.C. The two opposing “teams” have been gnashing one large bone between them, the Budget that is designed to distribute funds to run our nation during the next fiscal year. The big win was hardly the end of this on-going game played with such earnest energy and with the determination of small boys fighting over a pigskin. Hardly a win at all.
No, the end of today’s contest only resulted in another round; this time they played ” Kick the Can,” simply moving the target date for a solution to the budget problem down the calendar to February 8th. Ironically that is my youngest daughter Leslie’s birthday; she and her husband will be flying to Boston to visit friends, do the Red Line tour, and celebrate in the city known as The Cradle of Liberty.
Such high hopes were demonstrated by those early Americans, all immigrants from England. The Massachusetts Bay Company’s original governor John Winthrop preached the famous sermon “A City upon a Hill” before the group’s departure from their homeland, embarking on a dangerous mission, escaping religious persecution. He “spoke of the special covenant the Puritans had with God and of their actions which would be watched by the world.”
No kidding. We may not have been seen quite so clearly or so widely in the 1630s, but Winthrop’s pronouncement was eerie in its truth. Beantown, Boston’s other famous nickname (for the brown beans and molasses that were favorites of the sailors who found themselves in the harbor there), was also the birthplace of the Revolution, and you better believe the world was watching!
The new Americans weren’t playing at a game when they tossed tons of the tea, which had become a staple at every table, into Boston Harbor. The taxes levied on this import was seen as a nice little moneymaker by the British King, but as a serious injustice by the inhabitants of the colonies—these protesters.
We saw our share of protests earlier last week, women for the “Right to Life” took to the streets one day, women for “Rights” the next. Many of this second group of ladies interviewed were not quite sure of exactly what they were marching FOR, only what they were AGAINST. It seems like a lot of our lawmakers have the same problem. Just not sure what it is they want. But they sure as heck know what they don’t want!
Well, it seems that in the inimitable words of Sherlock Holmes, “The Game’s afoot!” However the folks in Washington, at the Capitol, The White House, or in The Swamp want to play out their parts in the very serious issues facing our nation today, we should all be ready with our prayers and our votes. And we need to stay informed, looking at both sides, keeping our eyes on the players, and the playbook. Ready to make phone calls, write letters, speak up, and to protest if the rules are broken….
For the world and God is watching.