Posted by: riverchilde | June 3, 2011

Playing the game

Last month, my classmates and I spent some concentrated time producing videos that brought home the staggering realities of poverty. You can find the results of our efforts here. They were moving, inspirational, depressing, and enlightening. Some saddened me, others gave me hope. All of them made me think harder about the issue.

At my house, learning falls in the same category as breathing and eating. It’s just what we do, and we do it together, sharing what we’ve learned as naturally as we share anything good that comes our way. Having heard all about our videos and having watched several of them with me, today my daughter was eager to have me try an online poverty “game” that she had played in school.

It was an interesting exercise together, and a chance to talk about our values. My daughter talked about how hard it had been to do the exercise as a group at school because of differing values. In particular, she was emotionally torn when it came to decisions that would cause hardship or pain to her “children,” while others had no difficulty in making choices that placed their happiness and comfort before their children’s.

The game has some structural flaws inherent to virtual reality. For example, I could skimp on groceries without actually feeling the effects of hunger. I could turn down an evening out without feeling the stress of never getting a chance to unwind. And I could say no to a birthday party without feeling my heart break.

 It reminded me again of how an individual story has more power over me than a string of statistics and facts. I can play the game, read the results, succeed or fail based on my actions, but that has less effect on my attitudes than being confronted with a real person telling their honest, unvarnished story. Playing this game a couple of times reinforced my attitude that anyone could “win” by making the right choices. Then I thought of a particular video a pair of my classmates had made that allowed a man who had been homeless to tell his story. That video humbled me, shamed me, pulled forth compassion from the bottom of my hard-hearted soul, and force me to look my lack of love in the face. His story transformed my story.

See for yourself which one touches your heart. Play the game. Then watch the video. And let me know.

 

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