First off, I would like to thank Hot Chocolate for helping me out with the title. That song will be playing in my head while I write this (and yours too if you are familiar with it.) We live in a world in which almost every aspect of living is broken down into winners and losers. There is a time and a place for that kind of attitude, and frankly I do find myself agreeing with those that think we have watered down our sense of accomplishment that comes from legitimate competition when we give out awards just for trying. That said there is a much larger problem, not just in our culture but in almost every one I can think of, with putting every activity or challenge in terms of victory and defeat.
Take this otherwise awesome article on charter schools. Much is made of good schools being important so America can compete with other countries. We never really read in which arena our country is competing. One can take few guesses: economics, diplomacy, productivity all come to mind. Why, though, do those have to be about competition. Should our first goal with all of those not be how they best serve our entire community? Shouldn’t our economic development be about how much prosperity we are generating for everyone, and not just about comparing our GDP to another country, if it should be about that at all? In diplomacy, while you certainly want to get the best deal for yourself, and your people, the end result should be the best deal for everyone, so both sides are better able to work together in the future. Neither of this has to, or even really should be, about winners and losers.
But this is what we are left with. I am sure it is some remnant of our primal past. Everything must be a zero sum game, because either you are eating or you are eaten. At least, that’s how things used to be. They are not like that anymore though. With so many sharing our planet, and with the consequences of aggression being so potentially high, what with our ability to kill ourselves and each other both by accident and design, wouldn’t it be more productive to step away from that kill or be killed, win or lose, victor and vanquished mentality? I know we like to think it is what works, but look around our world. When almost half the people on the wealthiest nation on the planet are struggling just to get by, I would say we are all losers.
I am not suggesting we do away with competition all together. It can be fun and healthy. It can be fun when we decide to gather in game and sport. It can be healthy in daily life on a micro level when people are competing for a promotion in an organization so you know everyone seeking that position is serious about it, and brings their best to it. With all that in mind, however, making our very well-being a competition discourages us from sharing resources, material and intangible, with each other that could lift us all up. We do not have the time or energy to waste trying to knock each other over to win the game of life, they are needed to make sure we all win the peace of mind a cooperative world can bring.
- Zero-Sum game. (thedigitalcaveman.wordpress.com)
- Let Them Eat Cake (possil.wordpress.com)
- Study- Whites See Racism as a Zero-Sum Game That They Are Now Losing (plantsmantx.newsvine.com)
- The Desire to Acquire (robertringer.com)