Sports fans love talking trades.  However successful their team, they’re never satisfied.  There’s always an eagerness to trade for fresh, exciting talent.  If, on the other hand, their favorites are consistent losers, fans will insist upon trades in order to revive the team’s fortunes and turn them into contenders.

Most every fan, as they think back over the years, can recall trades that made all the difference.  It started, they’ll tell you, with Babe Ruth being shipped by the Red Sox over to the Yankees in 1920.  But then came so many more including trades that sent the likes of John Elway, Nolan Ryan, Scottie Pippin, Tom Seaver, Sammy Sosa, Pedro Martinez, Herschel Walker, Wilt Chamberlain, Bret Favre, Kobe Bryant, Wayne Gretsky and countless others to teams whose fortunes improved dramatically as a result.  Trades are without doubt the lifeblood of professional sports.  They stir the pot, keep fans buzzing and busy devising their own blockbuster deals,  that they hope will improve the chances  their team will be successful.

Now imagine the possibilities were trades permissible and encouraged, not just in sports but also in more critical areas of our lives.  Trading people is not an alien concept.  In warfare both sides will on occasion agree to prisoner exchanges.  Among rival nations, captured spies from one side will at times be traded for those detained by the other.  In a hostage crisis someone may agree to trade places, become a captive, so long as others are released.  Our concern here, however, is with circumstances less urgent, though not inconsequential.

Consider, for example, that you and your husband have three boys and you long for a girl.  Should it not be possible, instead of taking your chances with another pregnancy to arrange to trade one of your boys (possibly the middle child who ordinarily is not happy with his position in the family) for a girl from another couple with only girls.  (Such transactions would require a clearinghouse whose expert staff could assess the circumstances and recommend or overrule proposed exchanges.)

Let’s say you’ve been dating this girl but the relationship has grown stale and unrewarding.  Coincidentally your friend’s girl, to whom you’ve taken a fancy, seems to have grown weary of your friend.  The opportunity is ready-made; a trade should be proposed.  On a more serious level, let’s consider certain married couples where ardor has cooled and monotony set in.  Might there not be benefits all around if wives or husbands could be traded to other couples well acquainted with each other.  (Do not such exchanges already take place?)  Consider the fact that in this transaction two family units would be preserved.  Also recognize that in every family there are members reckoned as embarrassments – an uncle all too frequently tipsy; a cousin forever “taking”, never giving; an aunt who dresses inappropriately and is intent on minding everyone else’s business.  Why not trade them off, their places filled by others more suited to the family circle.

There are few limits to the trades that might be arranged.  Teachers, bosses, fellow workers, neighbors could all be reshuffled, likewise politicians and government leaders.  The point is that nothing need remain fixed, systems can be revitalized, scripts rewritten.  As with our favorite sports team, a renewal of hope, an infusion of energy, an emotional uplift – all could be but a trade away.

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