Remember playing Monopoly as a kid? Think back to the beginning of the game, where the money gets evenly divided by the banker and the decisions about which game piece we want to be can come to blows before the first dice is ever thrown. As long as you can trust your banker (this was often sketchy in my family and neighborhood), the money follows the moves on the board, building and destroying fortunes until, one by one, the players become
bankrupt and one person eventually winds up with everything - WINNER. This process can take a very long time and most of the Monopoly games I personally played ended from sheer boredom before a winner was actually declared.
Reflecting back on my own personal strategies, I know that I began each game of Monopoly anticipating the ideal of owning Boardwalk and Park Place with hotels. I have always liked to own the railroads too, but I think that comes from my love of train whistles more than a tested Monopoly strategy. I’d pick up a property or few from the weaker sides of town just to prime my pump and keep me from paying rent on the “other” side of the board, but my eye was always on the prize - being the last ‘man’ standing. That kept my perspective trained on winning - with a little strategy, a lot of luck, and a ridiculous amount of patience. I don’t believe I would ever rob a bank for real, but back in the day, the monopoly bank wasn’t always safe near me when no one was looking! As long as I was still in the game, the drive to win had all of my focus and attention. There were times a game of Monopoly continued for so long that breaks for sleep were called, and in the morning someone always claimed that their property had been messed with in the middle of the night. It’s amazing how quickly you start to question whether or not you can trust the people around you when you find yourself at the top of the heap.
And what becomes of the players who have to leave the game early? After handing over the last of their dollars to pay a tax or a rent on something they probably weren’t even enjoying, they convene in the kitchen, fortifying their bodies with sustenance, reconnecting with the people they love and being thankful that the game isn’t real because the idea of actually losing everything you own is practically unfathomable unless you are forced to live it. When you are still in the game until the end, you can easily miss out on the community bonding that happens outside of your narrow focus. You miss the people that come back together in real life and pool their available resources for common use, creating a plan to fill the time where they wait for the game to be over so they can wipe the slate clean and do something else.
The Monopoly win is hollow and fleeting. No one is ever excited that you won, except maybe you, but by the end the thrill dissipates quickly. Owning everything can seem like the ultimate in power and control, but the reality always left me feeling something less than satisfied. I believe the game was designed to demonstrate the disparity and imbalance that pure capitalism will always develop, by its very nature and design, and I think it drives that point home very well. Monopoly was first introduced after the turn of the century and its lineage remains a debatable subject to this day. There are claims of design and creation from at least two sources - each with a compelling case, but only one of them received the financial and personal credit that would match such an invention. The other spent a lot of time trying to prove that she was the one who truly deserved the credit. Even at its inception, Monopoly has never lent itself to any ideas around sharing resources - only to building more where possible.
Our overall concept of Resources can be tested in the principles of the game Monopoly. Even though it may not look like it, there truly are enough resources for everyone in the world. Recognizing what we personally have in abundance, as well as what we lack, increases our ability to recognize ways we can be a resource to others and ways that we might take for granted the resources that are directly and indirectly available to us. Get into the ‘kitchen’ with some plans to mix it up - individually or as part of a group. After seeing your available resources in a new light, honor them with gratitude, and if possible, entertain a new way to share them with others.