It’s odd, how as we grow up, we tend to play less and less. When was the last time you had a game of it, or tag, with friends? Why do we “grow out” of such great things?
Even animals play more when they’re young. Puppies chase their tails, and kittens play with string, but cats and dogs have grown out of it. It’s a natural change.
Yet, we do still play. Sports, computer games, card games all survive into adulthood. Why not all the wonderful running games? I think, the change is, that we want the games to increase, and change, and be games upon games. We want long term improvement and therefore training in the game. We want the game to be part of a bigger game, and so we make cups and leagues.
I think society’s negligence of play is partially responsible for many of today’s problems. Amongst playing children, we find equality, friendship, and freedom. We find much the same among sports playing adults (not so much when sport becomes work). And what about the creative industries/businesses where workers are largely just playing around?
My question is, why don’t we play more? If a child will build an entire house out of Lego, why must the real thing be made drudgery? If children happily build their own toys from mechano, why bother with exploitation and the division of labour in foreign workshops? Why do we work, rather than play?
Capitalism [gasp!]. The demand for “efficiency” has long been at work, forcing man to be a part of a grand machine. The system demands quantity, and hates true quality.
Cost pressure drives the minimization of work, in order to minimize wages. But in doing so, it both ruins work for man through the division of labour, that may otherwise have been done as play (or art), and by reducing the demand for workers, increases their dependency on working the same way.
Arguably I should be blaming the consumers for wanting goods which weren’t made for art/play. To an extent maybe.
But more so, I blame the institution of property. Without this, we would be free to play. We wouldn’t be working on another’s property for his gain, and according to another’s desires; it would be ours to take joy in, and manage for ourselves. Even if it wasn’t for the worker’s own final use, it would be their work (play/art), for their own pleasure, even in the aid of their fellow man. We would all be self-employed, and have the joy and hard work of it.
We desire nearly everything we do to be part of ever greater and greater games. Why not?
I also believe the lack of play this is leading to social issues. There comes a point when working and recovering from work are too much, and there is stress, and there is boredom in work, and boredom in recovery, and there is depression. Or the unemployed have nothing to do, as work is taken, and no good play/art is accepted or available, so video game, watch TV, and little more is available; and therefore, feel unproductive and worthless, leading to depression (unemployed people are more likely to commit suicide). One in seven people in Scotland are on anti-depressants, and rates are similar elsewhere, showing how dire the situation is.
Lack of play and art is obviously not the only cause, but no one gets stressed or depressed from over play.
Here are a couple vaguely related scriptures
let all your things be done in love.
Perhaps I should have defined play earlier. I consider it an act of love. I believe it’s largely with God, as it enjoys creation, but also about sharing with humans.
‘verily I say to you, whoever may not receive the reign of God, as a child—he may not enter into it’
Accept the reign with joy and humility, like children. If this reign is among us, let us all be like children.
I often feel like we grow into fools. Childhood made more sense. But I also feel, that the important part of childhood never does grow up or disappear; it’s just not listened to as much.
God bless you.