Mandela’s quest for equality reaches casino floor

The world mourned the death of Nelson Mandela, an extraordinary world leader who died Dec. 5 at the age of 95, after long suffering with pneumonia.
Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993, perhaps no other person has ever fought so hard against prejudice and bigotry. And he succeeded! His achievements in South Africa have been remarkable. Apartheid is no longer. All people are entitled to be judged on an equal basis. Equal opportunity for all!
Recall that apartheid was the way of life for many years in South Africa. During my own life, I saw the racial prejudice and segregation in our country – virtually everywhere. Nelson Mandela set a wonderful example for the world to follow.
What, you might ask, has Mandela to do with the game of poker? Let me explain.
I have no idea whether he ever played poker. But the game of poker has much in common with Mandela’s quest. Visit any casino today. Sitting around the table you are likely to find virtually every race – white, black, yellow; ethnic origin; religion; tall and short; youthful and aged; even people needing canes and wheelchairs to get about.
I would ask you: What other game offers the masses – all people – the opportunity to participate without restrictions (other than minimum age)? Your race, religion, physical health, whatever – makes no difference.
You are welcomed into the casino and invited to sit down and participate in the game. Play whichever variety of poker and at whatever stakes you prefer as long as the casino offers it.
You are free to change seats or tables, to take a break when you wish, to order and enjoy a meal from the same menu as everyone else. You can get up and leave as you choose. No restrictions. Everyone plays by the same rules.
Meanwhile, let’s contrast this with popular games like football or basketball. Only the strong and young can actually participate; the rest of us – the masses – must enjoy these games strictly as spectators. Vicariously.
Indeed, how dare we designate baseball as our national pastime when only a small percentage of people can actually participate as players? Sure, it is entertainment – for which we must pay high prices to sit and watch.
Meanwhile, more and more people are learning to play the game of poker for its recreational value. Unlike watching a sporting event, playing poker serves to challenge and exercise our minds. Win or lose, our minds are healthier as a result. A healthy mind does lead to a healthier body. And it’s available to all people who desire to participate.
The Key Question
Were it not for the efforts and perseverance of Mandela, would our casinos be open to all, regardless of race, ethnic origin, religion, young and old, short and tall, those with creaking bones and the more nimble, even people needing canes and wheelchairs to get about?
The welcome sign is out to all of us at any casino! Come on in and participate equally – along with everyone else. You are all welcome to join us.

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