What Do You Mean By That?

You are so awful. Winning?! Don’t you care about people? Don’t you realize that the losers are going to feel awful? They are going to feel terrible. There is only one happy person in this here kickball game, the one that is a winner. Everybody else is sad. Do you like it that everyone else is sad? Does that please you? Are you happy now? Bastard.

Right. Go look up the phrase, “frame of reference” on that guuugle intertube thing. The one with all the funny cat videos and e-mails from long-lost relatives stuck in Nigeria needing money to get home. It’s a phrase my therapist explained to me. He’s so stupid. He totally does not understand. I mean, a winner? That’s just, y’know, like, so bougie and ugly. The guy is *old*, I mean he has to be at least, what, 40? And he’s white. Since when does any white guy, old-white-guy understand anything? Aren’t most of them absent their brains from all that loud music and weed?

Anyhoo. So . . . yeah. We all have a frame of reference. We come at the world we encounter with our history, our understanding of the world out of our narrative to date. This is for some, an immutable fate destined before birth, cursing us to whatever arbitrary outcome befell us at the whim of the gods. Get used to it. You’ll never be good at kickball, ever.

That’s not all of it, though. First, define, “win”. Do you mean to defeat all comers so you are the last one standing? Best every opponent? That’s one common definition of “win”. One that feeds the cray-cray narrative that to win is to sin. Another is to damage, injure or destroy opponents such that they are unable to continue to fight/compete. War is like that. It used to mean colonization of the conquered foe. Empires were made this way.

WWI may have ended that way but didn’t. There was no new empire made out of the ashes of the old. WWII gave us NATO but that is hardly an empire. The European Union is an unruly alliance collapsing under its own weight. It wasn’t created on the battlefield. It was made by technocrats promising more PimpDaddy Santas. It has none of the teeth of a conquering emperor and so the respect for it is minimal. It is collapsing because the promised treats are not so great and the costs are increasing.

Hitler tried but instead launched a brutal war to defeat him. Our interest in kings died when he committed suicide. I speak of the West. Big Man Socialist Dictatorships are still a fashionable way to run a country in places where everyone is mostly brown. But the old blood muddied, smoke covered battlefield is a definition of victory now thought of as evil. Ditto the Empires intended to rise on the bones of the defeated.

Broken Heart

Broken Hearts

There is another definition. This one is harder, riskier, and can get you killed. It is to destroy the will to fight but not the capacity to fight. This is what we are trying to do with those thick-headed great great grandchildren of the Ottoman Empire. We want them to be like us and sing kum ba ya around a camp fire all happy & huggy & nice. That they think of us as evil incarnate is just beyond understanding. Doesn’t everybody like hanging out in Starbucks drinking overpriced coffee?

In our day-to-day the wars happen in skirmishes in the workplace. Conflict is always brewing. Everybody’s shit is out there for all to see. Frames of reference abound. There is competition for continued access to resources. The threat is real to us. No job and no paycheck and how are we to keep paying for all the first world accouterments we enjoy? Many men have women who are rather clear that the life he enjoys is directly related to the salary he brings home. Take away the salary and the woman, the kids, the house, and everything else is gone faster than you can say, “Ovid!”

It isn’t sport. It is war. It is survival. It is life. So, the hippie feely shit about peace & love and happiness? Bullshit. Right? Kind of.


Roughly 4.3% of us have served in the military. Not all of those that have served were deployed. So, only a small percentage of the US Population can say they have been in battle. The rest of us have battlefields that involve threats to resources, values & psychological needs. Though, the response to such a perceived threat can feel like what we imagine war is like. Smack a shot of bourbon out of the hand of a drunk in a bar. Actually, don’t. That’s mean and you could get hurt.

There is a point to this, even though it is taking me over 800 words to get to it. If we change how we define a win, change what victory means, we can win and make the world a better place. If winning is beyond destroying the will to continue the fight to something more, good times.

There are some calling themselves revolutionaries who are infantile wannabes wanting PimpDaddy Uncle Sam to punish those mean old cops. Justice seems to be revenge against the perceived enemies of the wannabes. I have a suggestion for them, for you, for me: instead of running to an authority figure, asking to be made safe from triggers and bad people, why not take the lead and win? Why not find your own daisy to place in the barrel of an M1 Garrant held by a young National Guardsman? What are the ways you can serve, can do those small things with great love?

Pentagon Flower

Don’t Fight the Enemies Battle

For me, it is learning the long game with my coworker, whose style is to throw rhetorical haymakers and when those don’t result in a knockout, just shuts down. He is smart, has a good heart, gives a rip, and like most who are near me, is a hot mess. He’s also a Marine, a veteran of shrub’s war with the Taliban. I’m learning to love him though he’s annoying as hell. I’m learning what it means to win beyond taking away his will to fight. He would be less valuable to me if we were fast friends and he didn’t challenge me.

This is new ground for me. To be even this little bit successful, to have even the small victories I have. Some of me is still at the edge of the softball field behind the fence wanting to play kickball but afraid. I’m attracted to what is possible if we change our definition of victory so that there are winners and leaders who teach old ideas of grace, of loving neighbors and enemies alike. I and that little boy should play some kickball and win. Even if the reason is to piss of those helicopter parents being horrified at us who would dare to compete.