Election 2010: A Game of King of the Hill

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Sidbury hill 2Games Kids Play

Games were such important learning experiences for me as a kid.  I loved freeze tag, duck-duck-goose, and hide ‘n seek.  I really loved red rover.  It never really crossed my mind that I could easily break someone’s arm barreling through two clinched fists when I was finally “called over.”  Every holiday, my family played knee football in my grandmother’s front yard, which was wonderful.  I was the shortest, so I didn’t have to “run” around on my knees.  We didn’t need much to have fun.   Anything that required a plug to play was the kind of activity you’d do when you were grounded for getting too rough when you played to win all the other outside games.   The most rough of my childhood games might have been “King of the Hill.”  If you left the hill with no cuts, bruises, or broken bones, you probably left without the crown.  The odd thing is this — I hated that game but played it because I really wanted to win.

Who’s Worthy of the Hill?

Recently I’ve been watching adults play “King of the Hill.”  People that will do anything or saying anything to win do not surprise me.  It’s the political season — that’s what happens every two years.  The candidate that wants to win the most does all sorts of things that let others know that they want to win the most.  Ironically, we say the things they do are despicable and revolting and often elect them anyway.  Strange, huh?  Well, to me the strangest thing of all is the value we place on a person’s desire.  Are we such a lazy society that we figure if someone actually wants to do something we ought to allow them?  I’ve wanted lots of things (and got them) that should have been denied me.  And so have you.  Unfortunately, titles matter in our society — even as a child.  I think that’s why I wanted to be king of the hill.  I didn’t want to rule.  I had no plan for being king.  I only had a plan for becoming king.   And that’s what is  despicable in society today.

We are quite dependent on the judgment of others to grant or refuse us the crown.  Yet, many of us have never articulated the criteria on which we base our judgments.  We enter voting booths and simply mark ballots.  Informed decisions require us to develop criteria for making them.  In order to be sure I’m making good choices of who’s worthy of the hill, I’m sharing my criteria here.

  1. Mistakes are allowed.  Admitting to mistakes and describing what was learned from them is a must.
  2. Listening is key.  I’m looking for a listener, not a talker.  Someone who represents can only know what to do if he or she has heard from constituents.
  3. I like a wise person.  A resume doesn’t prove wisdom to me.  I want to see evidence of common sense decisions, clear analysis of current public issues, and plans for improving our society.
  4. Restraint is a must.  I want to know that a person can resist the temptation to be vindictive, disrespectful, and cruel when things can be accomplished with humanity and dignity.
  5. Shares my goals.  I want to give the crown to someone with my social, political, and economic views.  But I most deeply desire a “king” that cares about my perspective.

Former Speaker of the House, Tip O’Neill, always said, “All politics is local.”  I couldn’t agree more.  Every giant issue in our nation must be solved first in neighborhoods, cities, counties, and states.  We have lot of hills and need to offer them to people worthy of the crown.  Their desire to win does not play in my decision to allow them to rule.

How do you decide who’s worthy of the hill?

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