A Motion for More Freedom

The Liberty Bell – A symbol of freedom [1] (Wikimedia)

What does it mean to be free? Is it the ability to live the life that you want or is it to live the life that society says you can have? The society we live in today places has many restrictions and judgments on what we can and cannot do. I disagree with these rules; if I want to jump from a mountain, I should be allowed that right. (As a previous blog post mentioned, if I want to use marijuana and cause harm to myself, I should have that right to legally do so) In fact, I believe that I should be able to do anything I want without facing any consequences as long as I do not harm others. Our society today does not support this idea and instead pushes for restrictions and conformity.

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The Other Side of Communism

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A Symbol Of Communism [1] (wikimedia)

To truly analyze an idea or opinion, one needs to step out of their own perspective and look at everything impartially. Unfortunately, the world’s history is never written analytically. As Winston Churchill once said, “History is written by the victors.” His words hold true throughout history, and as a result, most of history needs to be reanalyzed to be thoroughly understood. One major example of this is the way that we, as Americans, perceive the idea communism. Most of us have read about or experienced World War II, Vietnam war, the cold war, or the Cuban missile crisis that causes us to naturally feel an aversion to the idea of communism in general. However, this aversion may be misplaced; communism in its simplest form is actually meant to promote equality. Continue reading

The Grasshopper Inherent? No! The Grasshopper Apparent

Exploring the Grasshopper’s Way of Life [1] (wikimedia)

Imagine the world we live in today. It has poverty, malnutrition, crime, trash, disease, and war. It also has artists, hard-workers, activists, and thinkers. Now, imagine a world with just the positives. In fact, try to imagine a utopia where resources are infinite, your actions have no effect on other humans, and the only impact that you can make is positive.  (All negative impacts are automatically fixed, and there is no human loss because everyone heals and lives forever.) This utopia is a world that YOU should dream of living in. Confused? Let me explain.

The world we live in today requires us to have a job, and earn paper with artificial value (this is money for those who did not get it) to survive and live happily.  Without this and without inherited wealth, we are forced to struggle daily until our deaths for basic food and shelter. Most people who have survival as their goal usually get a job. Those who really understand this concept also understand the benefit of an education. Education gives us the tools we need to survive in this world. One could argue that education allows us to find better jobs, which mean better food, shelter, and a higher chance at survival. (This somewhat supports Louis Menand’s theory 1 about selectivity (selectivity as a test for better survival) in his article “Live and Learn”) All of this shows that our world makes simple survival rather difficult. This is precisely the problem that the utopia proposed above would eliminate to improve everyones life.

In addition to this assurance of survival, this utopia has other benefits. It is a place where you can be what you want to be. A place where you have no restrictions and you can do what you want without consequences. Most importantly, this is a place where the beliefs of Thomas Hobbes from Leviathan simply do not exist since in this world, nobody can get hurt. Without this harm, people have no reason to be unified, and can live in their own self-interest freely. The only asterisk in this world is that it would have be somewhat inspired by Jean-Jacques Rousseau in that anything that an individual creates that benefits the world will automatically be distributed to rest of the world (for mutual benefit). To be clear, everyone works for their self-interest, but if they find something that benefits others they share it in the spirit of Rousseau. With all these positives and the freedom to do what you want (John Locke’s belief in the Second Treatise of Government that freedom is the most important value), it is hard to imagine a world that could be any better. This is the world in which the grasshopper from Bernard Suits The Grasshopper: Games, Life, and Utopia would dream of living.

To readers unfamiliar with Suits grasshopper, it is a rather sad story. The grasshopper believed that life should be all play, and that he would only do stuff if he felt that it was play. As a result, the grasshopper decides to not work hard (which is not playing) and decides to play. This leads to his eventual death. The grasshopper, however, believes that what everyone calls work is in many cases play (the grasshopper inherent) since they like to do it (a builder likes to build and this is his way of playing). In the world today, the grasshopper would not survive since there are requirements and mandatory work needed for survival. However, in the utopia, the grasshopper would survive since all necessities are provided for and he could play all day long. In this world full of freedom, self-interest, and play, everyone would be a grasshopper because there are no obligations and there are no restraints. Any action anyone would take would be due to their interest and their own perception of play. This is the world where progress would be made due to self-interest and self-enthusiasm. No company, person, or government could influence people to do work (in theory they may not even exist) and all work would be beneficial in a sense to everyone else (Rousseau’s ideology). By now, I hope you dream of this world as well; a world of grasshoppers apparent.

An Imagination of Utopia [2] (wikimedia)

Breaking the Barriers in Sports

Barriers Are Meant To Be Broken [1] (wikimedia)

Evolution is defined as the process that allows changes to happen in plants and animals over time. However, it can also be defined as a process of slow change and development. When looking at sports through time, most sporting fans can clearly see the changes that have occurred in light of more crowds, new technology (instant replay), medical advancements (PEDs), and new game strategies. Some of these changes have been for the better while others have not. Despite some possible negatives, most sports fans would agree that sports need to evolve, just like the world, to stay with the times.

One important aspect of sports that may need evolution is the way we divide our sports. Divisions and recognition in sports have led to many conflicts and changes through the years. One example of this issue was brought up in Mika LaVaque-Manty’s book The Playing Fields of Eton where wheelchair athletes felt that they were being treated unfairly in the New York City Marathon.  They argued that they should not be stopped during a marathon (just like any other runner) and should be given a division to recognize people in similar situations. In the court proceedings, their argument won the case, as it was a matter of granting athletes with disabilities equal recognition and fair competition (no stopping during the race). Although LaVaque-Manty brings up this case, later on he warns against too much separation of groups. While divisions do exist in sports to allow fair competition among people with similar abilities, it can sometimes hinder overall equality. A major division that should be examined is the gender division within sports. To understand the background of this division, we need to step back in history.

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The Regal Coaches

(Public Domain Image)

____________ Ball used in Football (NFL size Football) – [1] ___________ [public domain image – credit: wikimedia]

Football is the quintessential American sport. Like all other sports, it has coaches. In fact, professional (NFL) and college football (NCAA) teams usually have coaches for every position in the offense and the defense. To those of you who are unfamiliar with football, coaches related to the offense (wide receivers coach, tight ends coach, etc.) adhere to the principles and methods of the offensive coordinator. Similarly, all coaches related to the defense (corners coach, safeties coach, etc.) follow the strategy given by the defensive coordinator. Above this hierarchical structure is the head coach position. Both the offensive and defensive coordinators, who are usually selected by the head coach, implement their strategies while adhering to the general principles of the head coach. Ultimately, the head coach is responsible for the success of his team as well as its failures. Since every year counts, failure to produce results with players often leads to a head coach being fired. Additionally, loss of support from players is another cause for head coach dismissal. These reasons explain why many head coaches have had (and lost) several jobs in different teams or universities over their career. There are, however, ways to ensure tenure in a head coach position.

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The Timeless Relation between Games and Diplomacy

World Diplomacy – Picture Credit: Have a Cookie

Diplomacy is the art of dealing with people or countries in a sensitive and efficient way. Its importance and value has been respected since ancient times. In fact, the Chinese General Sun Tzu once wrote in his book The Art of War, “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.” His understanding on how diplomacy can single-handedly ended wars has been repeatedly proven in history through the centuries since his time.  Although not all diplomacy is related to war and peace, it is about making negotiations, building relations, and maintaining relations even in the presence of conflicts. Games and sports are a notable facet in history through which countries and people have applied diplomacy.

In Homer’s Illiad, the chapter on the funeral games for Patroclus is a prime example of diplomacy within a group through games. Achilles, the leader of the group, uses the games as a means to honor a fallen warrior, distribute the spoils of war, respect elderly soldiers, and as a way to keep his soldiers happy. His actions helped him maintain good relations with all his fellow soldiers. In addition, his abstinence from the Chariot Race (which he could have easily won) shows that he is willing to concede so that others have a chance in the race. Achilles, by his actions, displayed diplomacy on an individual level through the funeral games.

The funeral games from Homer’s poem bear a resemblance to a modern day games that also involve diplomacy: the Olympics. Although it may not seem so obvious at first, Olympics are one of best places to practice diplomacy.  One way countries can express their views is by choosing to participate or abstain from Olympics. One example of this use is the US boycott and attempts to convince others to boycott the Moscow Olympics in 1980 in retaliation for the Russian invasion of Afghanistan. Although not effective in changing Russia’s views, it did inform them peacefully of U.S. disapproval. Another way countries have practiced diplomacy during the Olympics is through the simple act of attending. By setting aside any differences and attending to celebrate games, an opportunity presents itself for feuding countries to reconcile. The Olympic Truce, an idea taken from history and has been recently promoted to the spotlight, has been a major diplomatic movement that aims to temporarily pause all wars around the world during the Olympic games to perhaps pave the way for new relations. Although the idea has only recently been promoted, it has already shown major promise in the United Nations when all 193 member countries voted to approve the truce in 2011.  These ideas and actions entwine games and diplomacy through a timeless relation for the betterment of the world.

Image Credit: Using public domain images (1 and 2)