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Playing the game

It is not uncommon for disagreement to arise out of mistrust - especially the mistrust of facts.  Perhaps the facts themselves seem unreasonable, or beyond belief, or perhaps the one presenting them is untrustworthy.  Frankly, there may be any number of reasons.  Regardless, there is reason in the disbelief and the opposing premise must be accepted, and respected: frequently, both sides in a disagreement are wrong, to some extent or another.

It is true, sometimes an athlete needs a competitor - but not all games are measured by the achievements of a challenger. Some games are won by your own strength or speed, alone.  It is when we are alone that we find our truest challenge, and understand there is no need for an antagonist or protagonist.  This is true in game and sport, as well as in industry and art, and especially in matters of political administration.

The truth (and best policy) is one which lies between extremes - to disrespect the experience of another is self-damaging, and to fail to understand some facts may disagree with some of our position but not all of it precludes the possibility of flexibility and evolution in our beliefs.

Frequently, a person may even believe in a god - fervently - that another does not believe in.  To an observer who either believes in still a different god, or no god at all, both beliefs seem foolish.  Yet even such an absurd premise should not be engaged, but accepted and respected.  The politics, economics, philosophy, flags, heroes, and other sacred things and ways of doing things of an opponent should be venerated as if they were our own: these precious things represent the culmination of numerous facts and experience, they are symbols of the principles which are mutually shared and therefore are irrelevant to the present disagreement.  And, it is bad form, not to mention counterproductive and improper, to argue over that which has already been agreed upon.

Games may be won or lost by knowing and following the rules.  But life is not a game: it has no rules to know, and freed from the construct of morality, it is clear one may do everything "right" and still lose.  It is simply irrelevant to consider the motivations of an action: right or wrong, moral or immoral, the effects are the same.  Frequently, the best intentions result badly.

Therefore, in fighting, it is possible to mistake a friend for an opponent when ideologically opposed: even ideological opposites share common interests, and benefit from mutual assistance toward these goals.  Indeed, even within a one camp or another, facts and experience are gathered, agendas shift, ideologies shift, and political affiliations shift - no doubt about it, such a world of change can be a source of anxiety.  All beings seek safety from this changing world.  And seeking safety, we would attack what seems to give us fear, and put down challengers to our own puissance, thinking "reduce the measure of our contest, and we more easily succeed.  If our competitor does worse, the easier we shall do better!"

But this strategy fails.  No attack on a challenger can change the true measure of success, we are not competing against one another, no matter our conception otherwise.  Fighting with our friends and neighbors will not make us better, nor more secure.  Ignoring our friends and neighbors so they feel like they have to yell to be heard (and still not being heard when they yell) is not securing ourselves against doubt. It is possible in such strategy to become so acutely aware of our opponents' faults as to become blinded to our own. And holding absent-mindedly and inflexibly to our own wrong beliefs, act against our own interests.

Consider instead that the measure of good conscience is known only by discovering the limitations of morality.  And those who have measured the limits of morality frequently find them wanting.  What seems cautious to one will undoubtedly seem callous and cowardly to another.  But is is not our duty to be cautious, or bold.  It is our duty to love, and in such athletics of the heart as our nature guides us, to succeed.  Success comes not through difficulty or ease alone, but by remembering what is easy, what is our nature, our dharma, we may strive to improve.  Flexing our only a little, we will not find our reach lacks strength.  Remembering what is our duty, we will not hesitate to act: remembering what is the duty of others we will be better content to permit them to also strive.  They do not challenge us, nor threaten us.  There is no cause for jealousy: those who fail to reach the summit of their ambition frequently find honor enough in lending a hand to those who press behind.  The drum inspires heroes, even when beaten to pieces.  It is not in winning, but in the athletic effort itself, that we find satisfaction of our purpose.

Sacrifice the score and you will enjoy the game better.  Sacrifice your win: friendship with the other players is better prized.  In such boisterous enthusiasm, you will exert yourself and discover your limits - are boundless.  Play for honor, and you will certainly succeed.