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Life and ‘Survivor’

By Nathan Rice

Television reality series “Survivor” completed its 40th season recently. The show premiered in 2000 when 16 Americans were dropped off on a deserted island near the coast of Borneo with a simple yet complex concept.

The 16 “castaways” would work together to survive on the island with very limited supplies. They would also vote one person out of the game every few days, using a majority rules method, until there are only two players remaining. At that point, the contestants voted out of the game would choose one of the final two players to win the game by voting for the one they felt best played the game. The winner would be named Sole Survivor and claim the $1 million prize.

The show has evolved and changed over the years, but the goal remains the same. Contestants must vote out their fellow players before they get voted out themselves. There are many players at the start of the game, but only one person wins the prize.

It’s a strategy game unlike anything else, and it makes for a fascinating show. Watching contestants try to figure out how to vote out their fellow players while still causing those fellow players to vote for them to win the game has kept me glued to the screen. I’ve watched every episode for 20 years.

There are some parallels between “Survivor” and real life. The contestants must work together to build a shelter, start a fire, find food, and create a society in which they live until the end of the show. Likewise, we have all been placed on this island we call earth, and we must learn to live together if we wish to survive.

The part of “Survivor” that doesn’t translate well into real life is the focus on voting out one player at a time with the goal of becoming the sole survivor at the end of the game.

Unfortunately, there are times we treat each other as if there can only be one winner among us. We form alliances and strategize against those who we feel can’t help us climb to the top of our “tribe.”

We spend too much time working against each other instead of working together to build a better place in which we all can live.

How much better would our country be if we spent as much time trying to support and encourage each other as we do trying to get ourselves to the top of the ladder?

How would our current situation change if we spent time trying to learn from each other, encouraging thoughtful dialogue, instead of entrenching ourselves with our allies?

It’s time for us to realize that life is not a giant game of “Survivor.” There isn’t one winner. We don’t have to “vote someone out” for us to stay in the game. We can, and should, work together to make things better for all of us.

Nathan Rice is a Hampton Roads native and can be reached at nrice@abnb.org.