“The Prussian model seeks to create a population for whom work, no matter how mind-numbing or back-breaking, is the only hope. That’s why they try to inspire us with the promise of a freedom that will never come. When we keep play alive in our own lives, in the lives of our children, even if it is just in the nooks and crannies, we are creating real hope for freedom. If you are reading this, you are probably one of those people keeping play alive. In this world, play is the one thing that can give us genuine hope. It is the only path to freedom. And that is why play is the greatest threat to the status quo.It’s play, not work, that will set us free.”
Teacher Tom, “Play Is The Greatest Threat To The Status Quo.””. teachertomsblog.blogspot.com. December 22, 2022
This morning, I was reading someone talk about how consistency is the key to great work. Before joining family and friends for Christmas Eve or Christmas, one should get a little work done. When I read it, it sounded convincing.
Shortly after, I read this piece from Teacher Tom. Its an interesting contrast. In our culture, value is a function of work. How do we contribute to society? And, our contribution is, for most, determined materially. In crass terms, it’s the hourly rate where we exchange our time for money. That’s our value.
But, it is useful to be reminded that there are other values. As one section describes it:
Yunkaporta points out that the word “work” does not even exist in many Indigenous languages. Indeed, the “work” his people did do prior to colonization was confined to a couple hours a day and was comprised of things many of us now do as a break from work like gardening, cooking, hunting, hiking, camping, tinkering, and fishing. They spent the rest of their time building relationships, making art, dancing, playing games (almost always cooperative), telling stories, and making music. Indeed, they spent their time doing the very things that our youngest children do when left alone to be whatever they want to be — not when they grow up, but right now. Play, not work, sets us free.”
Indigenous people, or even people not part of our post-capitalist society or that live on its margins, viewed value through the lens of being someone who was enjoyable to spend time around. What would our lives be like if this were the organizing principle of society?
On one level, this seems like it would make our focus on extrovertism even more pronounced. It would amp up the performance aspect of society. But, it also makes me think that extrovertism and introvertism might be a kind of filter failure, where our society and the people who were are acquainted with has grown so large that it passes a certain threshold where people stop trying to participate in that society.
If you lived in a society or 100 people or less, where people knew and cared for one another on some fundamental level. Wouldn’t this change our society, where we knew that there was this base layer of caring and knowing that serves as a kind of bedrock on which play rests? Doesn’t it require a certain level of negotiation to move to the kind of intimacy that play requires with complete strangers, particularly in a world where all but the smallest children have been wounded by others?
What would it take to live in a world where play was of primary value? I’ve suggested smaller group sizes. But, what can we do, right where we are, to make this a more important value?