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  • Writer's pictureHamid Rafizadeh

Serena and Not Understanding Many-agree Positions

It may sound self-serving when I say no one understands Serena’s behavior in the US Open because no one has read my book The Sucker Punch of Sharing in order to have an understanding of few-agree, many-agree, and all-agree positions that humans adopt societally in their interactions. But it is true. Let me explain.

In tennis there is the many-agree position that the ball hitting on the line or inside the line is “in” and hitting outside “out.” Assume in a tennis game the line judge calls the ball out and a player chooses to challenge. The “challenge” originates in another “many-agree position,” that as fast as the tennis ball moves, at times the human eye fails to recognize whether the ball is in or out, thus the many-agree position of using electronic means to develop a video that shows where the ball has hit. Assume the replay shows the ball was “in.” Now consider the following.

The player goes to the line judge and says that the ball was called out because of the player’s skin color and therefore it is a civil rights violation. What do you think is happening? Here is what happened. It was a switch from the many-agree positions created for the game to a societal all-agree position. The civil rights statutes are an all-agree position. On the tennis court, the player switched from many-agree position of calling a ball in or out to the many-agree position of electronically challenging the call to an all-agree position of Civil Rights Acts and the claim that the in or out call was driven by racial discrimination.

Two things are important to note here. First, the ease of switching from one position to another. We see that ease most readily when the player switches from the many-agree position of line judge calling the ball in or out to the many-agree position of challenge. We miss the ease when a player switches from those two to an all-agree position of discrimination based on color. Second, unaware of many-agree positions and how humans navigate them, in a given situation we can become incapable of managing and understanding the conditions created from mixing many-agree and all-agree positions.

Now let me return to Serena’s situation. In tennis there is a many-agree position that does not allow exchange of signals between player and coach while the play is in progress. Serena’s coach sends a signal, the referee catches it, and according to the many-agree position penalizes Serena with a warning. At this point almost everyone, including Serena herself, misses the switch that takes place from one many-agree position to another. Serena switches to the many-agree position that “it is improper to accuse someone of cheating when the person has not cheated.” This many-agree position exists societally but is not part of the game of tennis. The many-agree position that says players and coaches should not exchange signals is not about “accusation of cheating,” it is about a certain type of communication not being allowed. But the switch happened. No one reminded Serena that she has just switched from a many-agree position relevant to the game to a many-agree position that is not part of the game at the time it is being played.

Then comes the racket smashing.

The topic of “force management” is a foundational issue I discuss and analyze in The Sucker Punch of Sharing. Humans always face the challenge of replacing “destructive use of brute force” with “laws” that prevent such acts of destruction. Thus in tennis, using brute force to hit the ball with a racket is allowed—a many-agree position. However, another many-agree position prohibits the use of brute force to destroy a racket. Destructive use of force is a major societal problem. The game of tennis does not want to have any semblance of such behavior among its players. Thus Serena violates the many-agree position that does not allow destructive use of brute force and gets penalized for doing so.

Serena continues to look for other many-agree positions and finds the many-agree position of “fairness.” Everyone likes the many-agree position that states “one has to be fair.” In practice, the best definition of fairness is alignment with society’s, or game’s, many-agree and all-agree positions. Since no one is aware of this definition, no one notices that the one repeatedly not aligning with the game’s many-agree positions and thus “not being fair” is Serena herself.

Then comes the stage where humans can no longer manage an aggregate of many-agree positions. That stage is “harm throwing.” It begins by name calling—throwing words of harm at one another—and that can easily escalate into a brute force confrontation. That is why the game of tennis has a many-agree position prohibiting “name calling.” The logic of this many-agree position is quite simple. Name calling is “harm throwing” and harm throwing always invites destructive application of brute force. To prevent that and to limit such harm throwing, the game of tennis has the many-agree position that if a player engages in such behavior, there would be game penalties and financial fines.

By this point Serena and her supporters are no longer switching among many-agree positions but are focused on harm throwing. The crowd is booing the chair umpire without having any understanding of how it arrived there—how did it turn from a group of sports enthusiasts into a mob of harm throwers. That mob of harm throwers forces the US Open to escort the chair umpire out for his safety and forego the award ceremony that thanks the umpire for a job well done.

With the game over, no one notices that the act of switching to other many-agree and all-agree positions continues. In the aftermath of harm-throwing Serena switches to many-agree and all-agree positions of sexism and “women’s rights” as explanations of what had happened on the tennis court.

My point is not that Serena was right or wrong in switching from the many-agree positions suitable to the game of tennis to societal many-agree and all-agree positions that went beyond a game being played on the tennis court. I play tennis with friends and I know for a fact that if I stop playing and tell them I’d like to talk about poverty, they would look at me as if I’ve gone nuts and would firmly say, “We’re here to play tennis, let’s talk about poverty in the lounge after we’re done playing.” Yet that kind of efficient management of many-agree positions was not present when Serena was introducing one many-agree position after another. She and the crowd that supported her had not read my book.

Here is the key point. There is a lack of awareness of many-agree and all-agree positions and how humans manage them. So if you want to understand what is going on in a life expressed in many-agree and all-agree positions, READ MY BOOK. Otherwise you’ll be mesmerized by the chain of events that are hard to understand and explain even though they happen right before your eyes.


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