Ticket to the Future
One of our most pleasant discoveries in recent months was Ticket to Ride. This board game hearkens to childhood memories of riding trains and visiting our favorite aunt in Chicago. Going into the Windy City in pre-interstate days, we always passed over the historic (and rather smelly) stockyards, where the rails seemed to never end.
“Ticket to Ride” is the kind of game that is best learned from friends, and since our neighbors taught it to us, we have returned the favor at least half a dozen times.
That included giving my brother and his wife an extra copy in mid-October as an early Christmas present. We wanted to avoid them going back to Massachusetts and buying their own before we could gift them with it.
Cooperation vs. Competition
The game is so challenging to understand initially that our neighbors taught us to play while keeping all our train cards—normally hidden from view—and ticket routes out in the open. That way, they could advise us on strategy and the best moves.
Indeed, after buying our own copy and taking it on a weekend getaway, we played a second game with all the cards showing as we picked up more expertise and awareness of the game.
So, when my brother and sister-in-law arrived, we taught them via the “open book” method. Not only did they like it, they were ready to play the next night, this time with everyone’s cards hidden from view.
The difference between the two games was rather stark.
The first night, everyone laughed and chatted, making the atmosphere relaxed and a social event.
The next night, conversation was rare. Everyone was too busy hiding their cards, furtively turning them over to remind themselves how many of each color train cards they had, and plotting strategies in secret.
Allegory for Today
While it may seem a simplistic comparison, I see our nation as standing at a crossroads where—as with a board game—we can choose to cooperate and enjoy a better future together, or build a competitive atmosphere where we wage a war with few winners.
Case in point: the recent story about the ruckus over Talladega College’s band accepting an invitation to march at Donald Trump’s inauguration parade.
Yes, I’m aware of the racial controversies and the ugly side of ethnic clashes that erupted last fall during the presidential campaign. But at some point, we must stop fighting and accept the results.
As Alabama’s oldest private black liberal arts college, better that Talladega’s band is there to demonstrate its talents and exert its influence than stay home and pout, I say. Better that the group participate than continuing the racial animus directed at President Barack Obama throughout his eight years in office. It doesn’t make it any better when the target is white instead of black.
Time to Stop
Considering the inflammatory atmosphere that exists non-stop on social media, I can’t say I’m too confident that the warring will cease.
Still, I must raise my voice in saying, “Enough. Enough of the vitriol aimed at Obama, and the non-acceptance of George W. Bush throughout his presidency. And, for that matter, the conservative hysterics that are still leveled at Bill Clinton.”
The Civil War ended in 1865. One hundred and fifty-two years later, refusing to stop fighting with each other will only grind the nation to a halt, liked a locomotive running up against a downed tree blocking the track.