Quid pro quo. You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours. What it all boils down to is that if you do a little something for me, then I’ll do a little something for you. One of many potential problems, with this supposed even Steven approach, is that the rules of the game are not made clear at the very beginning which means that a casual observer can easily see that the playing field is not level before the first move is made. Level playing surfaces are generally a good idea. Maybe that’s why an old piece of wood is meticulously balanced on the knees and thighs of domino players before the game begins; or you are likely to hear frequent references to the levelness of various playing fields. After all, we’re supposed to start from the same place and when the obvious is uncovered there are measures like Affirmative Action and the Voting Rights Act to set the boat straight and minimize the tendency of the boat to list from side to side so that it can travel relatively unfettered through the cold and icy waters of this world. It is critically important to know that an even exchange is even possible. This is not the time for ugly assumptions to raise their heads unless they are offering them to be cut off.
Pre-Emancipation Proclamation slavery gives us a perfect example. I say “Pre-Emancipation Proclamation slavery” because I believe that slavery is very much with us today. During the undisputed slave days one ”justification” for maintaining the wretched institution was that enslaved people could not fend for themselves if freed. My guess (and it’s only a guess) is that the term “hog wash” came into common usage during the time that the ugly and untrue “justification” for slavery was actually believed by some. My questions to the readers are these: Given the belief systems at work, was the playing field even close to being level at the start of the game? Was quid pro quo possible? Is it our collective responsibility to do whatever can be done to rid the world of harmful assumptions? Should we rely exclusively on the courts of the world to tell us which assumptions are harmful?
As the writer of the questions I had the luxury of forming my own answers. Now it’s your turn. I suspect that our answers will be the same. One last bit of advice for now has several little pieces to it:
1. Know the rules of the game you are playing; 2. Know that the consequences for winning or losing can be very different for you; 3. It is important to size up your opponent so that you know what they have to lose and what they have to gain; 4. Know that the game continues and that the way you played it yesterday is not necessarily the way you play it today.