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Saturday, April 21, 2012

When Having Pizza Is Not all Celebration

How do you react when you don't get your fair share of something: Suffer in silence? Pout? How have a fit? Demand your rights? Other? (Serendipity Bible 10th Anniversary Edition, p.349).

Frankly, I don't have a scholar's understanding of the complexities of game theory. But I do understand the “sliver rule.” This is something almost everyone understands only too well—as when they sit down at a crowded table and there is only one pizza to serve everybody. Usually everyone at least gets a sliver. The real question is—is that all? Usually there is enough for some to get seconds, even thirds. But others are stuck with a sliver. This is the reality of it. And it is so despite attempts to mythologize abundance. While we all can imagine abundance as an escape from stark reality—and perhaps there's some validity to these imaginings in the very long-run (that can run into millenniums)—in the short run a large sector of people must adjust to being unappreciated by society's winners. While the winners always find justice on their side, the losers too are saved from bitterness by rationalization. Typically economic losers find a vital consolation in the long-term perspective of religion and its preference for immaterial over material values. To say that religion “is the opiate of the masses” is a crass dismissal of love's importance in providing the human necessity of meaning and with it some semblance of equality and happiness.

Whether one perceives much of life as zero-sum depends upon one's capacity to fantasize psychologically acceptable theories to the contrary. Unfortunately, enduring realities show such theories to be a major source of “the opiate of the privileged.”

Compassionate societies give up fantasy and find ways to augment the resources available to the ill-fed, ill-housed, ill-educated, ill-nourished, ill-treated, and fundamentally unappreciated. But such action depends upon the disinclination to worship at the alters of false phantasmagorical gods.  These gods erected from prejudicial political and economic theories are based ultimately on self-serving rationalizations and greed.    

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