We all remember the times in our early lives when we played the game of tag. We can recall what it was like when someone touched us to make us “it,” and how we almost injured ourselves trying to touch another person so that he or she could be “it” and we could take a break from running to breathe a little easier. When we now think of the lengths that we went through not to be “it,” we have to wonder how we are still here today! As we have gotten older and our desire to play the game of tag has waned. We have all paid the price for our loss of enthusiasm and for not resting until we passed on the designation of “it” to someone else. Although the designation of being “it” did not truly matter in the larger scheme of things when we were children, it has become important as we matured into adolescents and adults. Sadly, our seeking to find others and remind them that they are “it” has slowed to a pace this is unrecognizable, or has completely stopped.

A major part of the game of tag is the dispersing of the group to different locations to avoid being caught, as winning the game requires that we disperse while keeping a watchful eye on others. As we age, we seem to forget this rule, and begin to believe that dispersing so that we can all win and not get caught is a bad thing. However, if we all dispersed with the intention of winning and getting back together, we would gain so much, as we would find the good “spots” that we would never have found had we stayed together. We need to recognize that we are “on our own, but not alone.”

The designation of being “it” is even more crucial today in our fight to counter some of society’s greatest tragedies affecting the human spirit. If we are to combat bullying, suicide, discrimination, and the like, we must be prepared to relaunch that old game of tag and let people know that they can become “it” once again. We must let them know that they matter and are valuable, as well as that life is so enriched by their presence and, more importantly, their participation. A major contribution to the tragedies of bullying, suicide, and discrimination is that so many of the victims and perpetrators suffer from poor self-esteem because too few people let them know that they are valued and appreciated.

The game of tag in later life needs to be played slightly differently, as we now know that once we receive the designation of “it,” it travels with us in our mind, body, and spirit, and we should never lose or give it away. Our goal now is to pass it on to someone else who may have never received it or has lost confidence in his or her designation. One factor that gets in the way of playing the game of tag later in life is the “doing me syndrome.” So many current television shows highlight tragedies of the human spirit that are ignored by the many and addressed by the few. We can watch people being humiliated, abused, and lying in the street while others watch and do nothing. We have to understand that the paramount rule in this new game of tag is that I can get “it” and so can you. That is, we can be “it” together; no one has to be left behind, as there is room for us all. We see every night on the news what happens to people who have been left behind or feel they have been left behind. It is becoming unbearable to watch them and keep living as “innocent bystanders” who have no responsibility to make a change.

What does this new game of tag look like in everyday behavior? It is just speaking to, making eye contact with, and recognizing others while remaining present and available. Having reverence for every person, regardless of his or her station in life, is critical in this new game of tag. When we run into “reluctant players,” we must be steadfast in our determination to change the rules of the existing game of life. We must focus on building up people, places, and things, using our energy only to do things that contribute and make a positive difference. When life challenges this new determination, we must be prepared to firmly answer back, “I no longer live like that. I know that I am special and am not alone in being special. I just need to be reminded that I am special and matter. I will seek to let others know that they are the same. I will not keep a tally. I will just start living differently now. You are IT!”