The ‘Squid Game’ is a series of life or death competitions, in the guise of childhood fun and games. As New Order sang, ‘Grow up children, don’t you suffer, at the hands of one another.’ But as people become grown-ups, they tend to grow in greed, hatred and delusion too… before hopefully maturing spiritually… in time. Being fictitious, though with some facets reflecting the darkness of reality, the game can be viewed like a social experiment for our reflection, that tests a microcosm of society, to see if the quest for wealth can warp or straighten out humanity. Collectively, will desperate humans stand a chance against the worst in themselves?
456 players are urged to sign up to win big money, which is especially enticing with their extreme poverty or heavy debts. It becomes blurred, as to who is playing, out of more greed or need. The premise is simple — play games that physically eliminate losers, till one winner takes all — 45.6 billion won (or USD $38.5 million). With only one eventual winner, alliances to win other alliances are only temporary. With a few protagonists aside, there are no lasting allies or enemies. Personal advantages eventually trump over group benefits. Incidentally, this is how asuras work ‘together’. Just as others are only useful until they are seen as threats, so are you.
The game has three clauses… ‘Clause 1: A player is not allowed to stop playing.’ But why enrol in what is potentially dangerous in the first place? Why be trapped by greed? If already ‘too late’, why not encourage other players to form the majority in Clause 3, so as to end it all? ‘Clause 2: A player who refuses to play will be eliminated.’ However, according to Clause 3, if the majority of players refuse to play, no one will be eliminated at all. ‘Clause 3: Games may be terminated if the majority agrees.‘ Since the end leaves only one surviving winner, why not let all ‘win’ their lives back, which is surely priceless, with immediate termination? (If there are more greedy ones than wise ones, the latter is doomed — at least in this context.)
The most extreme of circumstances lead to the most extreme of responses. Will you be ‘true’ to your vicious ‘Mara-nature’, or will you further awaken to your pure Buddha-nature? Although the majority did vote to quit the games at first, desperate as they are, the majority voted to play again… leading to the rest of the drama. Perhaps this is a warning that there is no meaningfully moral democracy among the ‘self-damned’, who are willing to ‘damn’ others too? As John Lennon sang, ‘War is over, if you want it — war is over now.’ All that is needed for violence to end, is more who stand up for peace. As Depeche Mode sang, ‘Things must change. We must rearrange them. Or we’ll have to estrange them. All that I’m saying, the game’s not worth playing, over and over again.’ But of course, especially with the Squid Game making a lot of money, there will be a second season…