If there is one board game that is familiar to most of us, it is the game of Monopoly. Legions of stories are told and retold by elders in families about their experiences with the game. I remember as a small child watching my older cousins play Monopoly for hours at a time. It’s a game that teaches the lesson of changing luck and changing leaders. One person might be winning but then lands on a property with a hotel. The rent the player must pay can bankrupt him. And so, fortunes are made and lost in the course of a game.
While thinking about the game I thought about how it could be used for better and more interesting reasons than playing Monopoly as a pastime. What if there were a way to include world leaders in an international game of Monopoly?
Here’s how it would work:
A world-wide Monopoly game is played between Democratic countries and Dictatorships.
The audience is assembled. Pulses race. Blood pressure rises just below the stroke level. A great deal rides on the results of this game.
A dice toss allows the country with the highest score of the dice to begin. Assuring all other nations that there is no collusion, Russia goes first, chooses the dog as his marker, and advances to Park Place. As one of the two most expensive properties on the board, Putin snaps it up. Dreams of glory and victory show on his greedy face as he immediately buys and places a hotel on Park Place. Now he hungers for it’s sister property, Boardwalk. If he owns two properties of the same color, a marker landing on one of the properties must pay double the rent.
Although President Trump thought it would be a difficult concept for Putin to get involved in a capitalist themed game, Vladimir accepts the challenge of wheeling and dealing instead of his usual style of paying and accepting bribes. He continues the game, wanting to make sure that he is not accused of collusion.
Bashir Assad throws the dice next and lands in jail: a harsh joke to most of the world glued to the action. Thousands of fans watching the game hoped to see this happen in reality; not only in a board game.
Now it’s Theresa May’s turn at the dice, and she lands on “Pay Taxes,” a subtle reminder of England’s debt to the United States during World War Two. And Brexit.
Although it is Mexico’s turn, there seems to be some confusion about which warlord has the right to represent their country in the competition, with El Chapo still in jail. Nobody is bold enough to step forward to claim his turn at the Monopoly Board. El Chapo has claimed his right to represent Mexico. Nobody dares to step in and challenge him.
Then Benjamin Netanyahu fixes his jaw into a rigid grimace to show the world who’s the boss. And spins two sixes. He lands on “Pass Go, collect $200.00.” He can use that money to add to his defense budget, as he rolls again. What luck; to have a second chance because he spun two sixes; a double, his first time up. He moves ahead to the first of the Railroads, which he snaps up immediately. He’ll be able to use railroads to connect some of the settlements being built on the west bank.
The Arab countries, in a rare show of unity, pool their chances by joining together on the same team for a singular turn of the dice. They are so fierce and angry as they throw the dice that the dice hit the table with force, bounce up, and disappear in secret corners of the room. The arabs had been told about how to throw the dice, but they insisted on doing it their way. It was hard to force them to listen to the rules. They broke the rules of the game the way they break treaties.
New to the game is Kim Jong Un. He chose the airplane as his marker. Kim was disappointed that there were no atomic missiles to choose. The other country’s representatives didn’t want to anger Kim, because nobody wanted to take the chance of being poisoned at the airport on their way home.
The dice continue to rule how many squares the players may move ahead. The game continues, and as the tension mounts, the world awaits more news about the progress of the game. The Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, requests an immediate cease fire, and the world awaits with baited breath. Putin refuses to leave the board, Kim Jong Un insists on keeping his airplane marker, Assad demands an immediate release from jail, Netanyahu decreases his military budget, Trump says,”I told you so, and the Arabs are still looking for the dice.