Saturday, December 28, 2019

Rhyme and Reason

One marker of family vacations is the leisure and good sense to play games. Such a fun way to be together—even when the competitive streaks emerge in colors just a bit too bold. In the past week, we’ve played Ghost, Hangman, Twenty Questions, Boggle and I’ve continued my solitary Crostics. Also card games like War, Go Fish, Trash, 5 Crowns and my usual Solitaire. And it struck me that the first category are all about words and the second about numbers. The Rhyme and Reason of human intelligences. 

School as we do it at my school goes far, far beyond the 3R’s, but words and numbers remain at the center of success both in and out of school. And games are a great way to cultivate them—with sociability, fun, challenge and discovery about how each of these human faculties work. I recently discovered a cafĂ© near my house that is piled high with Board games and folks go to play with friends or strangers. Fun! It’s on my list of new things to do in San Francisco. 

Any good English teacher will tell you to stick with one theme and develop it and resist too many side roads. I began wanting to simply praise games as a great way to be with people and develop one’s intelligence. But thinking about Rhyme and Reason enticed me down a dark path that we need to light up with our continued concern and understanding. 

In short, our recent play version of The Phantom Tollbooth talks about the banishment of Rhyme and Reason from the land and the chaos that results. Written in 1961, its warnings remain so sadly relevant. Here we are with a so-called leader who not only displays a 2-year old emotional intelligence with his tantrums and an ADHD 4-year old level of impulse control with his tweets, but also models an impaired Rhyme faculty with his 2nd-4thgrade vocabulary and command of language and an incapacity for Reason with his climate change denials, also at a level with… well, I don’t want to insult the 2nd-4thgraders. As above, so below— a cardinal truth of leadership and how it can lift up and inspire or dumb down and give power to ignorance and stupidity. Amidst the complete lack of any moral compass, this ongoing flogging of Rhyme and Reason is just one of the many ways we are suffering. 

But we flexible humans also have the capacity to resist and refuse, to rise beyond bad models, to awaken amidst all of Fox News’ attempts to put us to sleep and I hope these resolves will be at the top of most (why not all?) American’s New Year’s Resolutions.

Meanwhile, I’m going to play cards with my grandchildren.

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