I wouldn’t blame you if you looked at me askance when I declare poker may well be the model for world peace. Yes, that’s what I said: WORLD PEACE. No more wars and terrorism!
I can just imagine you shaking your head and questioning me: “Are you completely out of your mind, Irene?” There have been wars throughout world history.
Before answering that question about my sanity, let me tell you about my visit to the senior center where my co-columnist, George “The Engineer,” holds court with his Claude Pepper Seniors Poker Group.
It was a Friday afternoon, and George had invited me to drop by while I was in the area. I could hardly believe my eyes when I walked in. The room was jammed full of poker players, chatting and smiling as they played Texas Hold’em.
It was obvious they were all having a great time. There were three tournament poker tables with senior citizens crammed around them – well over 30 men and women. What struck me was how well they interacted. Everyone was friendly, cordial, and respectful of the others. Side tables were full of every variety of light refreshment, which the players were welcome to enjoy as it suited each.
Sure, they compete for prizes but there are other, perhaps more salient reasons why they were there. George explained: “We play for recreation, for social interaction, and to stimulate our minds – mental health.” And, as a matter of interest, he explained that the group has been together for about eight years – and not a single one (ages 50 to over 90) has suffered from the dreaded Alzheimer’s disease.
But what does this have to do with world peace? I’m glad you asked.
Later, after I left the senior center, driving to a casino in the Los Angeles area, I thought about what I had just seen. It was more than just a group of senior citizens enjoying an afternoon of playing poker together.
The diversity of the group struck me as a microcosm of our world. Just about every variety of human being was represented – black, white, brown-skinned; Asian, Hispanic, Caucasian; men and women; tall and short. It mattered not. There was always room for one more.
All were welcome to come to the senior center and play poker together, enjoying each other’s company. All were respected. There was no issue of religious beliefs – just men and women of all racial, ethnic and religious backgrounds – sitting side-by-side, and interacting in an exhilarating experience that all enjoyed – playing the game of poker!
And so, it occurred to me: Wouldn’t this be a better world if all people in the world could learn from this example? Think of it: No more wars!
And then I arrived at the casino. Same thing. People of every imaginable creed, color – what have you – seated together at the poker tables, competing to win the chips from one another. A few minor spats – quickly resolved by the dealers and floor persons.
No fisticuffs (except that cruel sport shown on the big-screen TV on the wall), no weapons of any kind. Sure, there is challenge and competition while the players all interact in peace.
Wouldn’t it be a wonderful world if playing the game of poker could serve as the example for people to live by?
Marveling at my enlightened “discovery,” I called it to the attention of one of the floormen who I much admire and respect. I asked Mike why couldn’t this relative harmony among all varieties of people be emulated throughout the world. He had a fascinating answer: “It’s too easy!”
What do you think? Perhaps we should all enlighten our Congressional and other world leaders: Use poker as a model for finding world peace.
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