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To the editor:

When I taught ecology science classes, I wanted students to understand the difficulties involved in using management techniques. I decided to use the game of Monopoly as an experiment, but I would distort the rules … at first.

Students chose their group of four, and rolled the dice to determine the order of players. The student with the highest number on the dice automatically received the richest properties and $5,000 Monopoly money. Players two and three received the next richest properties and $1,500 and $1,000. The student with the lowest number on the dice received the poorest properties and $200.

The plan was to introduce the difficult realities that countries face by having diverse economies and natural resources, and to see how the students reacted to those differences in a simple board game.

After 20 minutes of observing the calamities facing the poor I interrupted the class. I told them I had made an error, and that students could change any rules provided all four at each table agreed to those changes.

Ninety-five percent of them instantly shared all their money and properties so that nobody had a distinct advantage over anyone else. They all smiled and enjoyed playing the rest of the class period. It didn’t matter to them who won, but rather that they remained friendly and happy. But the other five percent saw the rich student determined to “Win the game by defeating the others.” I witnessed near physical altercations in those groups … over a board game.

But, isn’t the object of Monopoly to defeat the others and become the richest player? Is it? Or are there greater lessons to be learned from this simple game?

The world now faces some serious financial dilemmas as the U.S. and China square off on tariffs and other money-making schemes in order to dominate the real-life Monopoly game. The stock market fluctuates, leaving citizens wondering about their future. Some people are driven by money and feel that having the most powerful economy in the world is our safeguard. Is it?

I’m one of the citizens that wonder what the world would be like if all nations worked together, instead of constantly competing. Since we are citizens of the same planet, traveling around the same sun, shouldn’t we be finding ways to help each other in every way we can regardless of language, skin color, and national origin? Wait, you say, that sounds like a socialist. No. I’m so disgusted with current political parties and various ideologies that I have become strictly independent.

I will be voting and supporting the men and women who were portrayed by the students who shared resources and helped each other in a silly board game years ago.

Ron Hellstern