In your work, your society, your life, the first and #1 rule is this: Play the game.
What does that mean?
I mean, play the game. The “game” being the set of rules and expectations set before you. Cases in point:
In a job, the system is that the employee does X kind of work for about Y hours over a Z amount of time. The employer provides A, B, and C in exchange for and to facilitate that work. Skimp on any piece of this, or try to add more in on one side, and the job is no longer tenable for either the employer or the employed.
In diet, obey the rules of fewer calories, better calories, and physical use of the body. Anything else is at best a lie, at worst a waste of time. By the rules of the game of biochemistry, doing X gives X results, doing Y gives Y results, and cheating or failing to grasp what is happening at any point can be the difference between health and heart attack.
In language, not following writing, grammar, spelling, or pronunciation ‘rules of the game’ will quickly get you ostracized from it, i.e. no one will attempt or welcome exchanging with you because you have failed the winning condition: to concisely and efficiently convey useful information in communication.
Get on with it.
In short, you have a part to play in a great, grand game. Your responsibility is to know the rules and execute them the best way you deem fit.
Yet, which rules a person follows is variable. There are a base set of rules, these being fundamentals of the universe. Chemistry, physics, math. 2+2=4.
But there are other rules too. Genetics, weather, et al. of the ‘natural’ world – these add a layer. Culture, history, society – another layer. Family ties, daily life outside oneself – yet another.
Your biochemistry, your experiences, your obligations.
What you had for lunch yesterday, the clothes chosen today, the cushion of where you now sit.
Your hopes, your dreams, your fears and anxieties.
Layers, layers, layers. All your responsibility to know, work on mastering, and to execute in whatever the ‘game’ is.
What is the game?
Read again the above paragraphs: It is everything.
Perhaps it could be described as ‘society,’ but this does injustice to simplicity. Society does not dictate how a person learns about burning a hand on a hot oven.
Maybe we describe the game’s systems as physics, yet how much more must be known than only physics to understand why a rainbow is beautiful to a majority of folks, while others gain no pleasure from the aesthetics?
At first glance, nothing appears to be an easy answer. The “game,” as game-entertainment is systematic, may be best defined along terms of value. Perhaps, “the game is a multi-player-specified systematic approach to determining value, value being that which is wanted by any other player.”
Is that definition hardened against critique? Not yet, but just as ignorance of solar fusion does not stop plants from growing under the sun, a partial definition (e.g. plants grow in sunlight) is better than none (seeds unplanted in the dark).
Why do I need to “play the game” again?
If you do not play the game, you will be buried by it. You will become more of a tool for use by others than if sitting at the table to participate.
The game is active, as in it will actively punish nonparticipation.
On second thought, the game of *waves hands at everything* does not “punish” – that is a moralistic term, and morals are both subjective and only able to be afforded in relation to present context.
Instead, the game repurposes any and every part of, well, everything. If a player does not want to play, it will be a piece. If a piece becomes inconvenient, it is crushed into the pillar the game is played on – a pawn turned to dust and ash of buried history to support the present.
How could so cruel a thing ever be justified!?
“Cruel” is a poor term – the Hippocratic Oath handles aspects of cruelty much better than will be discussed here.
The Oath is a useful tool that has lasted thousands of years because it understands something about the game of everything. The game is not more fair or unfair – it just is, existing and churning and doing as it will.
Gravity will drop a cliffside rock, waves will wear rock to sand, sand will settle in an oyster, an oyster will make a pearl, a diver will adore the pearl’s luster, a thief will take the bauble by force, a hungry bird will eat what is left behind, and onward and onward and onward.
None of the above is “fair” or “cruel” or any such thing. These events, these things are, and that is enough for the game.
But to the question of justification: There are ‘outs’ other than being consigned to oblivion. Those either be 1) benefit from the game rules-as-written, taking advantage where possible at least personal cost, or 2) advocate to other players to change and how to change the rules.
Remember, “the game is a multi-player-specified systematic approach to determining value.” Players determine the values the game’s systems work towards. Whether the player-determination system is democratic, representative, monarchical, authoritarian, plutocratic, oligarchic, theocratic, or otherwise, that is the way the game is set at the moment.
There yet may be hope for the game to change, but only if a player advocates for it.
That is not enough reason to play the game.
Improving your situation so as to suffer less? That is not enough?
Then think of others: Change the rules to benefit as many as possible. Raise up the “pieces” you will come across to be “players” in their own lives again. Render your excess unto the less fortunate, or dedicate your play at life to the better positioning of another player of your choice, whatever the whim.
Or, just get out from underfoot. Care less about being a pawn. Seek to be less inconvenient for those attempting to make something grand of the game. It will be better for you and everyone else if done, for the game will seek to crush nonparticipants regardless – getting out of the way saves time and effort for everyone else.
Rule #1: Play the Game
Play it well. Find out and know the rules. Be the best player you can be.
Everything else is optional.
Advocate for yourself. Advocate for others.
Change the rules, yet only after understanding what can or ought be changed.
And if you can’t? Serve others following Rule #1 and get out of the way.