Playground Rules
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Playground Rules

The United States' place at the top of the slide.

Playground Rules
Keri Glassman

Often, playgrounds are depicted as sort of developing a social network, one consisting of different levels of power between individuals—a food chain of sorts. Whether it be a scene from the Rugrats or most any other fictional depiction, the top of the food chain is almost always dominated by a bully figure, someone who rules by fear, working for his or her own benefit with little regard for others. Again, almost always, we can count on the underdog protagonist to step up in some way or another and get rid of the tyrant bully, freeing up the playground to be enjoyed by all of the kids equally as most modern entertainment is really just democratic propaganda.

We constantly depict this dynamic of ruling by power and fear to be ruthless and unjust, condemning it as a crime punishable by revolution. Perhaps to follow a similar line of thought, the United States tends to “stand up” to any controlling tyrant, ready to push those bullies down and let all of the kids have an equal chance on the play set.

Or, at least, maybe that’s just what the image might seem like through the most nationalistic perspectives. The U.S. has, essentially, bullied its way into being the “underdog for equality” in a comically ironic way. It is, without a doubt, the most powerful nation on the planet in terms of firepower, and certainly one with the highest of influence, but wanting everyone to play equally might not be as clear cut as it is in cartoons.

Take the events during and around the Spanish-American War for example. While the U.S. was fighting in part for Cuba’s independence, they were also fighting to take control of Puerto Rico and the Philippines, often using methods in one front that they were combating in the other. Or, under Teddy Roosevelt, when the U.S. convinced the people of Panama that they needed a revolution just to be able to take the Panama Canal from a newly independent entity, the stars and stripes lay split over the guise of equality and the motivation of ulterior motives. Consider too, perhaps, that the U.S. is the leading power to control the use and existence of nuclear weapons globally for preventative purposes, and is also the only country to have ever used nuclear weapons.

Since its manifest destiny spread beyond sea to shining sea, the U.S. has slowly become that bully figure on the playground. It has an immense dominance of power, and it isn’t afraid to assert that power to get what it wants and needs. We’ve been lucky enough to have voices that can more or less soothe any opposition that feels these sentiments, but as that voice has transferred to a medium that is famous for being poor-tempered and rude, perhaps it’s time to be weary of underdogs seeking to overthrow the tyrant.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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