Paper, Rock, Scissors…

We often approach life’s mysteries like we approach children’s games; we accept certain rules, because that is what we were told by the people who taught us the game, and that is what they were told by the people who taught them. In doing this we potentially give simple, and even nonsensical, answers to very complex questions. Sometimes the only reason those rules “make sense”, is because that is what we were told, that is what we are comfortable with, that is what we are accustomed to, but not because they actually “make sense”.

For instance, paper beats rock, right? Everybody knows that. But what if the rock were wet? Or what if the paper were held tight and someone threw the rock at the paper. Rock would most certainly beat paper. Even answers that seem obvious, like “scissors beat paper”, are sometimes more complex than we make them. What if the paper is really thick and the scissors are really dull? What if it is an entire stack of paper, or a thick phone book? Then that simple answer would not suffice, and a deeper complexity would have to be admitted.

Looking at a children’s game like this would, of course, completely ruin the children’s game, and take out all of the fun, and make it virtually impossible to play. Children’s games need simple rules and tasks, in order for children to be able to play them. Imagine trying to play Paper, Rock, Scissors with someone who viewed the game in this more complex way. It would be virtually impossible because, no matter what, that person could make an argument for which ever option they chose. The fun of the children’s game would be completely removed. It would be absurd. But of course, life is not a children’s game, and it is equally absurd to apply simplistic “children’s game rules” to the most complex human interactions and eternal mysteries of life.

I am not saying that everything we have ever learned is wrong. Scissors can beat paper. What I am saying is that it is sad to see someone trying to argue that “scissors beat paper” in a situation where it is totally not the case, and they stand by that argument because that is what they have always been told, and they are maybe scared of the perceived uncertainty of looking at other options. Scissors beating paper is comfortable, because that is what they have always known, but the situation they face is far more complex than a children’s game.

Yes, in the game of Paper, Rock, Scissors, paper beats rock, rock beats scissors, and scissors beats paper, and even in life these scenarios can be true. But in life there are also different scenarios that can be played out, not to mention different elements like water, fire and sledge hammers. And when all is said and done, life can not be summed up in simplistic “children’s game” rules and answers, but requires a deeper look, and more complex way of thinking. Life is not a children’s game, and paper does not always beat rock.

 

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