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The Zero Sum Game

September 3rd, 2022 by Michael Dyet

Hmmm, can we summon the will to correct our course while time is still on our side?

The calendar has rolled over to September and summer is unofficially winding down on this holiday weekend. Technically the last day of summer is September 22. But for most of us the Labour Day weekend is the threshold.

September always has the feel of a restart given that the new school year begins. My last day of university was 40 long years ago. But the restart state of mind still prevails. This year’s restart has more of a feel or normalcy to it with most of the pandemic protocols removed – although two Ontario universities are stubbornly still imposing the face mask mandate on their students.

The Monarch Butterfly, as seen at the top of this post, is as enduring  a symbol for fall as we are likely to find. Monarchs are staging now for their epic 2,000 + mile migration to their wintering grounds on a mountaintop in Mexico. Their departure this year is more poignant as they have were recently designated an endangered species.

Giving the state of the world these days, I wish that I could tag along with the Monarch migration. Hanging out on a balmy Mexico plateau for the winter is very enticing. But if I did so, I might not have the motivation to make the return trip and re-enter the fracas.

Butterflies, of course, are a metaphor for metamorphosis (pardon the alliteration). Moving through the pupae stage to the caterpillar stage and finally to adult stage, they epitomize the need to evolve over time. Life does not allow us to stand still. We must continuously adapt to the changing world around us. But it is becoming increasingly difficult to do so.

How do we adapt to a world that is increasingly fractured and at odds? The concept of living in harmony is a preferred state that is nearly impossible to achieve now. Increasingly, humankind, by some malicious force, is forming battle lines on numerous fronts.

The principle of living in harmony is being supplanted by the principle of discord. Pick one side or the other, we are told, and act accordingly. If I am not on your side, I am your enemy. If I adopt a neutral stance, I become the enemy of both sides.

In this scenario, there must always be winners and losers. Winners take the spoils and use them to consolidate their position. Losers slink away to lick their wounds and regroup for another assault.

I am of the belief that the principle of discord, and the dynamics that feed it, is a zero sum game. There is no state of peace or rest in the equation. There is only the state of hyper readiness for the next assault.

I hope we do not see the extinction of the Monarch butterflies. If we do, it could be a harbinger of our own approaching extinction as a species that lost its way in the universal changing of the seasons. There is still time to correct our course. But it requires relinquishing and banning the I Win – You Lose mentality.

~ Now Available Online from Amazon, Chapters Indigo or Barnes & Noble: Hunting Muskie, Rites of Passage – Stories by Michael Robert Dyet

~ Michael Robert Dyet is also the author of Until the Deep Water Stills – An Internet-enhanced Novel which was a double winner in the Reader Views Literary Awards 2009. Visit Michael’s website at .

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