Mah Jongg Transcends Politics By Ann Israel

It hasn’t been an easy time for many of us. The months, weeks, and days slowly leading up to the midterm elections on November 6thhave taken their toll, not only financially but mentally as well. Not to mention the mass shootings, stock market crash, and more. I know that for myself, I am exhausted, sad, depressed, and just sick and tired of all the negative ads on television, the endless robo phone calls, the polls, and the television pundits repeating the same things over and over again. The midterm elections and the results didn’t come soon enough.

But there is one thing that unites us all – one thing that allows us all to be friends, no matter what our politics may be – one thing that brings us together…and that is our beloved game, Mah Jongg.

This month I am teaching a class made up of two tables of four women. I know some of them are Democrats, some are Republicans, some are Independents or No Party. And yet, when we all come together once a week at 3pm, there are no differences among us. We are all there for the same common cause – to play a wonderful game.

There are no arguments over presidential comments. There are no disagreements about which candidates we should be supporting. There are no snide comments about political choices we are making. No… instead there is only the sound of laughing as we shuffle the tiles and start a new game.

The political differences among us dissolve as we all put our hands on the tiles and shuffle them together. We are all the same as we do this wonderful ritual. There is something healing and cathartic about this time-honored exercise.

The building of the walls and the dealing of the tiles is quick and, once again, something we are all doing together. And now the Charleston begins. We pass to the right, across, and left and then we do it again in reverse order. And then comes the courtesy pass – and once again we show that there is no hostility at the Mah Jongg table – “you only want to pass two tiles? No problem.”

No, there are no problems when we join together at the Mah Jongg table (except for the fact that maybe you don’t have any Jokers once again!). Although the differences and the political nonsense may start up once again once we leave that wonderful table, as long as we are there with our friends the outside world, with all its anxiety producing issues, simply goes away.

Mah Jongg is the great equalizer, the stress reducer that has helped me through this difficult time. And, although I know that with the end of the midterm elections, the 2020 presidential race will begin and bring on more of the same that has been going on during the midterms, I can take a deep breath and know that a Mah Jongg game with wonderful, supportive friends will bring the peace and respite I seek from the outside politically-charged world.

Now, if only I could get some Jokers!