In a world fraught by deadly ecological problems, the idea of discussing the future of gambling may seem frivolous. Yet it is far from that. As a fundamental human activity, it deserves to be studied without cultural or religious bias for the key that it may provide to survival. We have been fed a lot of myths about our wish for homeostasis, which is really a state of bovine contentment. To attempt to achieve this state we consume mountains of pills and rivers of alcohol.
Somehow we seem to feel that if we can deny our essential humanity long enough, we can solve our problems. When we attempt to grow, we are considered mentally ill, masochistic, or naive. Outworn Freudian or Skinner ian approaches to human behaviour are pushed at us, and we seriously consider the nightmare possibilities of Beyond Human Freedom and Dignity. If we are to design for a healthy future, we must remove our blinders and examine the total human personality from the point of view of health, not sickness.
Consider gambling. It is a fundamental human activity– that is, people have always gambled, are gambling now, and will continue to gamble, in the future. Yet we are told that it is masochistic, sexually sublimative, and aberrant. Gambling has been ubiquitous in human history, and the gambling impulse has served us well. It is part of “the adventurer within us’– that part of ourselves which lusts for change, the wooing of the unknown, chance, danger, all that is new. It sends us to the gaming tables and the moon, the laboratory and the numbers man.
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It is part of what makes us human. Studies show that, contrary to popular belief, gambling is by and large beneficial to the gambler and increases rather than decreases his efficiency. It is beneficial in that it stimulates, offers hope, allows decision making, and, in many cases, provides the gambler with “peak experience,’ that godlike feeling when all of one’s physical and emotional senses are “go.’ Looking at society as a whole, we see the “preservative impulse’ involved in gambling operate for every age and socio-economic group. Many elderly persons are passionate gamblers, called “elderly life seekers.’ What they seek is what most gamblers seek, involvement in the action. This is crucial to their sense of well-being in this society, which excludes them from the action of living and seeks to hide them away. Not only this, but while they play random games such as bingo and slot machines, they have an equal chance with the rest of the participants for perhaps the first time in their lives.
While they play, they are wholly absorbed in the contest. The implications of this are that gambling can stimulate the elderly to renewed interest in life, and that homes for the aged would do well to allow their residents to gamble, keeping them alert and stimulated rather than dull and tranquilized. Moving from the retired to the working class, we find the importance of the gamble is still in the action. In this case, however, the working-class individual sees his participation as a means of surmounting impotence, of feeling that he has a hand in his own destiny.
Having little opportunity for decision making in his job, he feels that if he wins he has in some way controlled his world; if he loses, it is simply a tough break. Some feel that gambling provides a measure of escape from unrewarding occupations. Corporations concerned with efficiency and the mental well-being of employees involved in monotonous tasks might do well to incorporate some form of gambling break, keeping people interested and alert. The prizes need not be monetary, but could include time off, a really precious commodity to many. It is not suggested that we could solve the world’s problems by turning it into a giant casino. Instead, it is suggested that in a time when we need imagination and creativity more desperately than at any previous time in history, we do wrong to suppress a whole element of human personality which may be a key to these other elements, often attempting to deny its existence, while maintaining that the impulse to take a chance is masochistic.
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People gamble, whether it is legal or not, because it helps them face the world more successfully than they could without the spark which it gives. Yet we treat gambling as the Victorians treated sex. We must learn to accept and deal with out total humanity if we are to have any chance of creating, rather than a society in which the individual conforms, one geared to the growth of the individual, a society in which we may glory in our humanity rather than suffering constant guilt over our normal impulses. In addition to commanding one’s total involvement, gambling also conveys a sense of purity to those who participate. The true gambler is motivated not by greed for money but by the action involved in risk-taking. Thus, he is like the hunter who is more concerned with the codes of sportsmanship and the thrill of the hunt rather than with his ultimate trophies.
In a sense then, there is an honor among gamblers. They enjoy the game for its own sake, and they respect the integrity of a contest where the odds are set– a condition that exists in few other places in contemporary life. Good Intro In our highly technical society where machine-tooled perfection is an ideal, the gambler has acquired a bad press. He is frequently viewed as an erratic, unstable, and irresponsible sort, driven by unknown forces to take foolish and unnecessary chances. The results of this risk-taking may be financially and psychologically dangerous to the gambler, as well as to those whose lives interact with his. But gambling is a fundamental human activity, which can sere a valuable function for both the individual and society.
In the future, the positive aspects of gambling may be increasingly recognized; society may revise its view of the gambler and learn to use the gambling experience as effective therapy. Through gambling, many individuals can become more actively involved in life. Others can obtain needed psychological release from tension and drudgery. Good Conclusion Ultimately, the future of gambling may depend heavily on changes in people’s attitudes.
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Many people gamble whether it is legal or illegal because it gives them a “spark’ which helps them face the world more successfully. Yes, we tend to regard gambling much as the Victorians viewed sex– as something shameful that should be hidden, or confined to red light districts. Fear of taking a chance keeps us repeating our mistakes instead of allowing us the growth that comes from making new ones. We are not proposing that we could solve the world’s problems by turning it into a giant casino. Instead we are suggesting that in a time when we need imagination and creativity desperately, we do wrong to suppress an aspect of the human personality which may be a key to these elements. We must learn to accept and deal with our total humanity if we are to have any chance of creating a society geared to the growth of the individual rather than to merely making him conform.
By recognizing the benefits of gambling, we may begin to appreciate our humanity rather than suffer constant guilt over our normal impulses.