Games People Play

What “games” are Joe South referring to in the opening lyrics to his well-known song?  (Music and lyrics by Joe South, 1968.)

Oh the games people play now
Every night and every day now
Never meaning what they say now
Never saying what they mean

In this blog you will find an essay entitled “Laughing and Lying: Why We Can’t Stop!” describing how most people express “fake laughing” 80 to 90 percent of the time. “Never saying what they mean” could refer to the two-faced Washington politicians referred to in the “lying” part of the title.

And they wile away the hours
In their ivory towers
Till they’re covered up with flowers
In the back of a black limousine

Here, the songwriter could have been thinking of the distance between the 1% and the 99% that perilously divide our American community, the lack of compassion that fails to breach the divide between the haves and have-nots, the wealthy and the homeless. Life is short and our false self prevents us from expressing the most satisfying and rewarding behaviors which include serving others—acts of compassion and generosity.

[Chorus]

La-da da da da da da da
La-da da da da da de
Talking ‘bout you and me
And the games people play

Oh we make one another cry
Break a heart then we say goodbye
Cross our hearts and we hope to die
That the other was to blame  
[emphasis added]

Projecting blame on a scapegoat also called the other is how we escape taking responsibility for our reactions and how we rationalize our unethical behavior. In this way we remain unconscious of the existence of our True self and transform occasional pain into a life of suffering.

Neither one will give in
So we gaze at our eight by ten
Thinking ‘bout the things that might have been
It’s a dirty rotten shame

Virtually all failures in human relationships and interactions can be traced to our failure to choose to respond to life as it is in the present moment. Failing to live life consciously, we are not aware of the truth of what is really happening with other individuals and indeed between collectives including intra-religious (Shia and Sunni) conflicts, inter-religious (Jewish and Moslem) violence, ethnic cleansing (Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda), and international disagreements (Russia and the U.S.). Failure to “give in” and the lack of awareness inherent in accepting a P-B worldview has virtually all of humanity participating in the creation of a “dirty rotten shame.”

[Repeat Chorus]

People walking up to yah
Singing glory halleluiah
And they’re tryin’ to sock it to you
In the name of the Lord

Many of us have experienced the gap between the professed beliefs of the religious and their reactive behavior. Saying that he admired the teachings of Jesus and the principles advocated by Christianity, Gandhi was characteristically honest when he went on to say “but where are the Christians.”

They’re gonna teach you how to meditate
Read your horoscope, cheat your faith
And furthermore to hell with hate
Come on and get aboard

The gap between what the religious advocate and what they actually do make the institutions of religion around the world one of the major obstacles to the awakening of humanity.

[Repeat Chorus]

Look around tell me what you see
What’s happening to you and me
God grant me the serenity
To remember who I am

Cause you’ve given up your sanity
For your pride and your vanity
Turns you sad on humanity
And you don’t give a da da da da da

For those with the courage to “look around” and be truthful about what they see would make anybody sad. The pride and vanity of our false selves pursuing plenty, pleasure and power has driven us all into expressing various levels of neurotic behavior. It would be a good idea if we would all begin to give a da da da da da.

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References and notes are available for this essay.
Find a much more in-depth discussion on this blog and in printed books by Roy Charles Henry.

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