Congress Should Learn To Play Sardines


Every youth group has their “go to” game. It’s the game kids want to play every week on a Sunday nights. When I was a youth pastor, our youth group’s game was Sardines.  Here is how we played it:  Turn off all the lights in the church. It should be totally dark.  Send two kids out to run off and hide somewhere in the church building. Wait five minutes for them to be good and hidden and then send the rest of the group off to find them.  If you find them, you join them, without letting the rest of the group know where they are hiding.  The goal is to get as many kids packed in one space possible. (Like Sardines)

Why is this fun?  Well for one thing you have permission to run in the church building. Second, it’s dark and spooky. Third, its something the group tries to accomplish together.  I remember one night, after 20 minutes of Sardines,  the youth leaders and I called “time” and the whole youth group of 30 kids came pouring out of a closet, gasping for air, laughing hysterically.  They were having a blast!

We have been watching our elected officials in Washington DC be snarky with each other repeatedly over the past, I don’t know a decade.  The latest episode being the fight over whether or not they were going to push our economy over the fiscal cliff.  The frustrating thing in watching this dysfunction is recognizing that it could be prevented.  I have heard people say that elected officials in Washington used to have better relationships.  They used to build relationships through recreation and social settings.  Today, members of Congress leave over the weekend and go back to their families and constituents.  They don’t stay in DC and  socialize or  play.  They don’t have an opportunity to care about each other on a personal level.

Imagine if the House or Representatives all played a rousing game of Sardines? Imagine if they just turned off all the lights in the Capital, and ran and hid and played, and worked together for a common goal. Imagine if they all poured out of the building, laughing. Congress needs a youth leader. They need someone to facilitate community building, report and relationships.  

We wonder why they are so dysfunctional. – It’s not because they are selfish or conceited. – Although for some that might be the case.  It’s because they don’t trust each other or know each other. They have forgotten their neighbor’s humanity.

They need to play a good game of sardines and then do some trust falls, maybe close off the night with a game of passing marshmallows with toothpicks and then all come together and lift up prayers of joys and concerns.  I’m not saying they all hold hands and sing kumbaya, but they need to figure out how to be a community. They need to care about each other, understand each other and respect each other. They need to understand how to hold each other accountable with kindness. 

If they could accomplish that – they could govern.



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