10/12/2008 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

McCain, Obama, And The Game Of Life

Life is short. Our individual life spans make up a minuscule proportion of time since the origin of modern humans. It is easy to forget how short our individual lives are in the midst of the daily decisions we face; but it is worth reminding ourselves as we go to the polls this November.

I try and remember this "long lens" view life and ponder my own life decisions from such a perspective. James Carse* once described life as a game and the strategies people use to play the game as either "Finite" or "Infinite" in perspective.

"A finite player is one who plays the game to win or lose and sees it as having a beginning and an end; an infinite player is one who tries to keep the game going with the objective of engaging as many players in it as possible."

I see our two political tickets and their candidates as coming from two very different perspectives, one Finite, one Infinite.

The Finite players want America to "win" at the expense of others. It is a philosophy of putting Americans first, designating "us" as better than those not like us. The Infinite players want America to lead by example, to create a better world for all and to engage players from around the world to be part of the game.

The Finite players see "winners" and "losers" in America as well. The American marketplace is viewed as the key to winning, those that can?t make it financially or can?t afford health care or can't protect themselves, better luck next time. The Infinite players value a free market economy but recognize that diversity will arise in terms of access to resources (education, health care, security) and see that one role of government is to help equalize the playing field.

The Finite players don't fear ending the game as long as they win.

The Infinite players see the game itself as a goal and want to keep it going, engaging everyone in its play.

Infinite players can play finite games but they do so to keep the larger game alive. Finite players don't see the Infinite so their goal of winning runs the risk of ending the Game.

McCain/Palin or Obama/Biden, whom do you think will keep the game going??

*Finite and Infinite Games, 1987