This is a guide for playing one of humanity’s most complex and mysterious forms of engagement. This is the game of Finapoly™.
Finapoly is unique and intricate. The more you know about it, the better you will be able to successfully meet its demands while living a satisfying and productive life.
Unlike most games, participation in Finapoly is mandatory. It engages all human beings. There are no exceptions. Of course, certain humans play through proxies. These include children and those whose physical and mental incompetencies require surrogates. It also includes many in what we call “the Third World.” They don’t have direct control, but they must still play. They are affected by how others play.
Accordingly, Finapoly is humanity’s biggest game. It enables life as we know it but it requires focus and understanding as it consumes the energies and hours of our lives. Finapoly rewards skillful players but punishes the inept. As with professional sports, it bestows miraculous rewards upon its phenoms. It is not so generous to second-raters. In fact, it can leave them on its playing fields, broken, defeated, injured and ruined.
Accordingly, it is most definitely worth learning to play the game with knowledge, understanding and vigor. The alternative is to be marginalized and, possibly, thrown into the scrap heap. Money does not care either way.
Finapoly is a unique pastime. Unlike a Parker Brothers board game, it has no playing surface but the world. Compared with any other games, it is exceedingly complex. Its playing fields are everywhere two or more people gather in its name.
Though luck plays a huge part in any game, Finapoly bears little similarity to other games where chance is a significant aspect. Physically, it has no dice to roll or levers to pull. It is generally free from bells and whistles. In contrast to athletic games, Finapoly lacks hoops, goal posts, finish lines, starting guns, bats, gloves, bases, paddles or plane surfaces. It has no clock but lifetimes and plays with only one ball — this rather large and extraordinary orb of wind, water, earth and fire that carries some seven billion gamers on its surfaces.
Finapoly engages our relationships with money, personal and cultural. It is the whole game of money not just its tools or its tangible artifacts as reported in the daily news. As with any social game, its details and nuances directly engage the common content of cocktail party conversations, personal worry and the daily news. Obviously, Finapoly includes all the bits and pieces of financial systems from law, legal instruments, government agencies, investment strategies, financial products, taxes, financial institutions, various currencies and the like. These are the games within the games involving the tangible observables we can see, smell and touch. That being said, Finapoly goes much deeper. Finapoly connects individuals and groups with money’s intangible aspects including its incentives and temptations, its demands and motivations, its paradoxes and threats and, most especially, its functions as the life blood of the body social.
Finapoly is an overriding and unavoidable reality for most humans living in the 21st century. Indeed, skill in its play is, for most of us, a 21st century survival skill. Though it plays differently within first world, second world and third world countries, or even within households and geographic regions, Finapoly touches everybody, often profoundly. We play the game with varying degrees of skill and enthusiasm. For many, the ways we play the game will be the overriding factors for the most significant aspects of our lives from dreams and passions to our senses of mission and purpose–or anomy and meaninglessness.
Finapoly is complicated. It includes infinite arrays of those games within games. Loaded with varying intrigues, plots, sub-plots, permutations, twists, turns and ironies, Finapoly engages humans and the planet we inhabit with an unrivaled intensity. No other species engages in this game. Though its primary features of reciprocity and exchange are arguably mirrored within and between other species, this sport is uniquely human.
It is also infuriating, requiring arrays of skills and perceptions for both individuals and their groups that do not come naturally. Moreover, it is sneaky. Sometimes, your opponent is your teammate. Sometimes your teammate is your opponent. Leagues and alliances morph and mutate.
Finapoly challenges individuals at their essence, at their most vital spirit spots. It is so metaphysically challenging that its issues constitute the second most addressed in the Bible and its two thousand year old wisdom. It holds similar sway in most other religious traditions, as well. Indeed, for Western individuals, Biblical guidance on how to play the game is arguably some of the best available for achieving lives of contentment and comfort.
For both individuals and groups, from families to companies to nations, Finapoly’s challenges come from all ranges of human knowledge and theory. From psychology to economics to the hardest of sciences to the most spiritually adventurous undertakings, Finapoly puts us smack up against infinite complexity and weaves itself throughout the fabrics of daily lives and human existence.
Finapoly is paradox incarnate. It takes us from literal survival and abject misery to joy, celebration and meaning. It also drags us through selfishness, sin, greed, tragedy, conflict and calamity. Though some have tried to view it through the lens of science, that lens has failed to capture sufficient details to provide full understanding. Though some have tried to examine it through the filters of morality and ethics, history has denied them the purity they sought while failing to confirm their convictions. Though others have questioned its aesthetics, Finapoly itself shrugs off all pretenses of artistry or beauty. The game is sufficient unto itself.
“Finapoly” is, of course, the game of money. Its name is a combination of “fina” and “poly.” “Fina-” captures the notion of finance while the word “poly” has its etymological roots in the notions of “many” and “much.” Thus, it is literally “finance for the many,” an apt descriptor of this complex system.
Money is the most powerful and pervasive secular force on the planet. It touches every personal and social aspect of 21st century humanity. It is so omnipresent, we give it little thought. Yet we really do not know its particulars. After all, “What do fish know of water?”
While Finapoly has been around for many centuries in one form or another, its current iterations are unprecedented. The rules have changed. To play the game most effectively, we ought to understand our relationship with this most modern version from the inside out. That is among the aspirations of this book.
Its main purpose, though, is to enable us to look at money with new eyes, with both appreciation and alarm. Money is amazing and terrifying. Arguably, money is humanity’s most profound original creation. That being said, is it wise that we rest our lives and our society’s on its tensile strengths. Not found in nature, it enables human beings to cooperate peacefully across a host of divides as nothing else. Physically, money has evolved from hard and heavy to light and insubstantial with quasi spiritual qualities over a very short period of time. Indeed, it is still evolving in the manners in which it could serve humanity. Or bring us down.
Unfortunately, to do this job, money demands our respect for its integrity and a full understanding of both how it came to be and what it might become. It also involves recognizing our own personal and social money scripts and the ways in which we are weird about money both individually and culturally.
To that end, the reader is asked to look at money with new eyes and a beginner’s mind.
 “Finapoly” is a registered trademark owned by Richard B Wagner