The state of our planet
What is the state of our planet right now? I think we all know it’s not in the best of shape. According to scientists and journalists our home is dying, fast. So what do we do? We look for another planet, preferably close by, that will house us humans, until we screw that one up as well.
‘Now Ellen, this doesn’t sound like you at all!’ You’re right. I’m usually the most positive person I know. Let me introduce myself to the people who don’t know me. I’m Ellen, 61 years old. I live in the Netherlands but see myself as a world citizen. I’ve been a travel agent most of my life. This gave me the opportunity to travel, meet wonderful people and their cultures and made me realize that we’re all basically the same.
We all want to survive and hopefully in a happy and satisfactory way. I chose to write. I’ve found my passion. And I’m sure my grammar and spelling won’t always be perfect. I’ve worried about it, but decided to let it go. I’m sure many of you will overlook my mistakes.
During one of my travels I met an amazing American man, Tom Crum. He’s been my mentor, teacher and close friend for years. I’ve learned so much from him. One of the things he taught me and that I will never ever forget is ‘the state of our planet game’.
A bunch of volunteers wanted to play. A map of Earth was spread out on the floor and we were split into five groups, each group representing a continent. We were each given some money and tokens representing resources like oil and gas. Right away the unfair differences between us became painfully obvious. The Africa group stood kind of embarrassed with next to nothing in hand.
The rules were easy: Just like in real life, each group (continent) had to gain as much money and as many resources in order to win the game. Now Tom had made up another rule: We only had ten minutes to work with. The earth is dying, remember? So time is of essence.
Now, we were all peaceful people. And I dare say we were not stupid. Though spectators might not have agreed by the way we handled things. Because, just as in real life, we started to shout and convince other continents to almost give their money and resources away. If not voluntarily, there would be sanctions or we would even go to war!
To this day I still cannot believe there was even a continent where a civil war broke out. The ‘population’ disagreed with trading agreements and decided to go on in two groups. Tom put the pressure on by shouting that we had to hurry up, people!! He even seemed to get a bit angry. And NOBODY wants to make Tom angry:-)
So, just like in real life, we got nervous. Everybody wanted to win. We wanted the power, the recognition, the love (yes, love) of all those around us. In the very last minute someone ‘got’ it. Every continent put its money and all its resources in the middle of the map. It was then equally divided into five continents.
Instead of one winner, there were five. We each had the same amount of money, the same amount of resources. And you know what? There was more than enough for everybody. It was so very simple. And yes, it is THAT simple. The power of this game was to realize we all still believe in the misconception of winning by force. More is better, no matter how we get more. And we all fell for it. Why? Because we get caught up in our routine.
I met up with Tom a few weeks ago. We talked about the game. And how powerful it was to actually see where the problems are and how easily we could all solve them. Almost too easy. And that’s where we continue to make mistakes. We all rely way too much on what we know and what we always used to do. Although we know so well that it never worked and never will, if we don’t change this routine.
But change is hard. Change is scary. It takes courage. And that’s why we need games like this. To show us how easy and painless it actually is. How it will never hurt anyone, nor embarrass anyone to let everybody (every country) win. The game was played in front and with, world leaders in the ’80s. They seemed to get it then. But they al too soon turned around and go on in the same ways they always have.
We played the game then. Maybe it’s time to try again in 2022. Have we evolved enough to see that we’re now in the last minute of our game? Tom and I fantasized about trying to set it up again. ‘We will have to add climate change‘, Tom rightfully offers. Will it make a lasting impact this time around?
I don’t know. For now all I know is that I want to share this story with as many people possible. Maybe you can already imagine the rules of the game. Maybe you, also, will feel the need to share. You see, it really works. Let’s all, each and everyone of us, be winners. Let’s play the game! Are you in?
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