All of Humanity is Playing Squid Game: how to stay alive, and win the biggest game there is
“The soul becomes dyed with the color of its thoughts.”
― Marcus Aurelius
Such a compelling way to express the power each of us has in creating the environment in which we operate, be it a family, a religion, a political system or a global community. Look at the chaos of the world of the 21st century and you will see, mirrored back to us, the substance and quality of the thinking of mankind.
From ancient teachings to present religious expressions, the overriding law by which we are governed is to love one another. We’ve all heard the adage. We speak it. We wish it. And at times we try to practice it. Mankind, however, has not internalized it. We have, in fact, ignored it and created the opposite.
A current global phenomenon is a Japanese series, called “Squid Games,” that has captured the attention and following of the world. In it, people who are burdened by debt are lured to go to a place where they can win unimaginable sums of money by playing games. They’re simple playground games such as Red Light, Green Light and Tug of War. Winners stay for the next game, losers are eliminated and for each player removed, more money piles up.
It is a winner-take-all exercise and eliminated means killed. Millions watch the series as the reality of modern life, the general thinking of mankind, is played out before their eyes. One commentary on the show goes like this.
If we had any hopes of finding goodness in human nature, “Squid Game,” and mainly its popularity, proves that we have nothing to hope for when it comes to human nature. If we can create such shows, and if they can be so popular, then we can do such horrors in real life.
Michael Laitman, PhD
The fact is that we regularly perpetrate upon each other such horrors. Our attitudes toward each other reap religious, political and social systems within which we wage war with each other over ideas. Any history book will tell the story of the unspeakable atrocities we are willing to bring down on each other.
Squid is the actual name of a children’s game in Japan, deriving its name from the shape of the game board. There are two teams and the game has two main purposes: either for the attackers to achieve the purpose of the attack or for the teams to annihilate each other. According to Squid Game director Hwang Dong-Hyuk, he chose to name the show the game called Squid because it was “the most symbolic children’s game to represent the kind of society we live in today.”
A New Game for the 21st Century
In nature we never see anything isolated, but everything in connection with something else which is before it, beside it, under it and over it.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
There is another game in which we all participate, and we play it with Nature herself. Unlike Squid Game we are born into it, not invited. Nature sets the rules, and the consequences of not following them are administered just as rigidly as being killed for moving when Red Light is called. However, the punishments are not immediate. They accumulate and escalate over time and every time one individual flouts a rule, we all suffer.
Nature, however, is a kinder judge, because the goal is not material wealth, but the betterment of mankind. She allows for remorse and repentance to earn us many more chances at playing the game correctly, and the reward does not all go to one final winner, but to every player, equally. The ultimate reward is peace on earth and happiness for all humanity.
The rules have names such as interconnection, altruism, balance, harmony, interdependence and unity, all derived from the primary principle of life — love your neighbor as yourself. The purpose of the rules is to lift us to higher and higher states of love and connection, in order to merit the reward. The tricky thing about this game is that in order to win, we have to change our very nature — from egoism to altruism — and it requires extraordinary effort. All moves of the game must be away from hate and separation and toward love and unity.
Nature’s only desire is that we yearn with all our hearts to be like her — pure bestowal — and she requires that it be our choice to do so. In order to know that we have that strong desire, she has given us a force against ourselves that we have to overcome in order to achieve the goal of the game. That force is called ego and it constantly pushes us to act only in our own self-interest. It manipulates us into exploiting others in order to get what we want when we want it.
The effects of ego manifest as greed, hate, violence, oppression, xenophobia, separation, war and every other evil perpetrated in the world today. Nature is way ahead of us in the game, because we have not learned how to manage and balance the individual and collective ego.
Strategies for Winning the Game with Nature
America was founded on principles of individualism and personal achievement, but also with the idea that all are equal on the level of decision-making about how we live together. Capitalism serves the first principles, but has relentlessly eroded the ideas of cooperation and collaboration. Our mind set is “Let mine be mine, let yours be yours.” This is all well and good, except that getting what is mine requires that I take from you. Those who are exploited lose their voice. Do not interfere with others’ businesses — stressing the privacy and freedom of the individual — is what created the truly adverse situation of the world in the 21st century.
The secret to winning the game is to change our thinking. We must learn that we are not meant to overcome or conquer Nature, but to join her by internalizing and practicing her rules in all our affairs. The first step is to practice: “That which you hate, do not do to your neighbor.” This does not mean simply to avoid harming others, but that we must relate to the other, so that we cannot harm another despite your egoistic nature — to want to receive.
Interestingly, Nature is trying to teach us. The COVID-19 epidemic has revealed some of the flaws of capitalistic thinking. We are learning that our relationships with each other are far more important that stuff. As we see which businesses fail, or decrease in impact, we begin to think about what is really necessary for our basic needs, including living socially and comfortably.
It’s my conviction that we cannot change the world if we’re not able to change our way of thinking, our consciousness.
Thich Nhat Hanh
I am not suggesting that the change we need is to inaugurate a different economic system. It is an inside game, in which we the people put on new glasses so that we are able to see the template given us by Nature for our relationships with each other — her benevolent laws. By this we change our attitudes, our thoughts. Peace will come to the world when we gradually, but inexorably, alter our inner landscape.
The new game is played inverting fierce competition, the need for power and control over others, and money as the measure for success into collaboration and cooperation, partnerships with each other, and measuring our success as humans against “Love your neighbor as yourself.” When we have collectively advanced to the continual practice of this old adage, we will rise together to a better world, one that works for everyone.