Over the Christmas holidays my husband taught our five-year-old grandson a familiar little game. As a result Aidan now holds the key to resolving every single conflict in the universe. He just doesn't know it.
The game, of course, is Rock, Paper, Scissors – a silly little contest with the simplest rules imaginable. At exactly the same time each contestant smacks his own left palm twice with his right fist; then on the third smack he hits his palm randomly in one of three ways – with another fist (symbolizing a rock), with his flattened hand (symbolizing a sheet of paper), or with his first two fingers outstretched (resembling a pair of scissors.) If one person does "Rock” and the other does "Scissors”, then Rock wins because a rock smashes a pair of scissors. If, on the other hand he does Rock and his opponent does Paper, then Paper wins because a piece of paper "covers” a rock. Similarly, if one person does Paper and the other does Scissors – Scissors wins because a pair of scissors cuts a piece of paper.
The point is that each object has just as much power as another. Consequently each object has an equal chance of being the winner or being the loser. There is absolutely no strategy, and no way on earth to figure out ahead of time which object your opponent will choose to be. The playing field is level. Nobody has an advantage. And every "win” is indisputable.
The question is, why aren't we using this straightforward little game toward a greater purpose? Let me give you a few examples of what I mean.
We're in the midst of a Presidential election year. Just think of the money and time that could be saved if instead of heated debates, nasty TV ads, mass quantities of junk mail, ad nauseum pundit opinions and annoying robo-calls, each political party did Rock, Paper, Scissors to select its primary candidate – and then the two party winners squared off against each other in a Rock, Paper, Scissors match on the first Tuesday in November to claim the Oval Office! I don't know about you, but I'd vote for that approach, hands down!
Or how about this: Suppose you're interviewing for a job, but there are at least ten other people vying for the same position. Everybody has similar qualifications, so why not just settle it the easy way, with Rock, Paper, Scissors?
And here's another one: We all know the televised awards ceremony for the Oscars has been losing viewers steadily for years and it's no wonder, given how long and drawn out the whole ordeal is. I say, let's get Meryl Streep and Glenn Close up on stage, all gussied up in their designer gowns, and let them duke it out for Best Actress in a Rock, Paper, Scissors contest. Talk about a ratings booster!
The possibilities are endless, and could range from large, like border disputes and sovereignty issues between countries – to small, like deciding who gets the last remaining first-class upgrade on the plane. ("Ha! My paper covers your rock! Now get your lousy roll-aboard out of my overhead compartment, Buster!”)
Want to break the annoying Congressional gridlock over spending and taxes? Need to settle a delicate corporate contract negotiation? Unsure which long-distance phone plan to go with? Don't sweat it. Use Rock, Paper, Scissors. Problem solved! In fact, you'd be hard pressed to come up with a challenge that wouldn't benefit from this cut-and-dry remedy. (Just think – we could run trial lawyers out of business overnight! After all, why pay millions in legal fees when the whole matter can easily be settled in just a few seconds!)
But perhaps the best use of the game would be settling arguments between spouses. Witness the conversation before:
"Forget it, Hank. There's no way I'm turning the guest bedroom into a 'man cave'.”
"Well it sure beats the heck out of using it for your stupid scrapbooking mess, Sheila!”
And after Rock, Paper, Scissors: "Hank dear, where would you like me to hang this FatHead of Peyton Manning – to the left or the right of your Barcalounger?”
Let's face it, for eons mankind has been struggling to find the best way to solve the world's problems. So far we've tried Majority Rules, Survival of the Fittest, First-Come-First-Served, and every mother's favorite, "Because I said so”, but none of them quite seem to do the trick.
What we really need is a quick, fair, decisive method for resolving conflicts – something that is totally free, accessible to everyone, and biased toward no one. Well guess what, folks? Remarkable as it may seem, we've had the answer all along – and it's right there in the palm of our hand.