Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Competition Mentality

Competition mentality is dominant. Where do we get this mentality? Was it already in our genetic makeup from the start? Maybe it was integrated on our psyche because of Charles Darwin’s survival of the fittest theories. Maybe it’s because of sports. Maybe it’s the way of awarding of contests, or honors in primary or secondary education. Nah, these things are not the source, but were products of the competition mentality.  Humans are just competitive in nature, I think.

Friendly competition is good. As long as it is good natured and would make all participants or competitors better, with no envy or any negative feeling among them. As long as the proper optimistic view of losing is adapted, in which a defeat is not total failure at all, but a defeat has to make you stronger, wiser, or perform better next time. It has positive effects, and healthy, too. But there is a danger. Competition always has a tendency to turn unhealthy or give the wrong interpretations of principles of life.

Competition. Humans tend to compete a lot and make it the center of their lives. From childhood to adulthood. We grow up and find out it’s an “eat or be eaten” world. That’s how we are taught and trained. In school, in work, it’s everywhere. Integrated in our philosophies and cultures. Success is on top. Winning is everything. So we do everything we can, no matter what it takes, to win, even if we break the rules or/and step on others. And in this mentality, losing has no room – it is a disgrace; thus, losing depresses and destroys those who lose. And if we can’t win, we tend to drag and pull back those who can win so they won’t win either – the crab mentality. The danger of competition is making us self-centered and selfish.

Wouldn’t it be nice if humans would not think in a competition mentality but in a “let’s win, let’s succeed, let’s reach the top… together” mentality? Wouldn’t it be nice if we could help each other succeed, and when one does, there is no envy? Wouldn’t it be nice to have friendly constructive designs of competing where winners and losers end up as better persons?

A particular true story always makes me shed off my cynicism and makes me try to see hope in human nature. The story has a wonderful lesson which we all should ponder. A lesson from nine handicapped children.

It happened years ago in one particular Seattle Special Olympics – a sports competition for physically and mentally handicapped children. There were nine participants in the hundred-yard dash. So, when the gun cracked, they started out. Suddenly, one boy tripped and fell to the ground. He sobbed and cried. The eight other participants stopped, turned around, and seeing the boy on the ground crying, walked towards him. One girl with Down syndrome bent down and kissed the leg of the boy and said, “This will make it better.” Then all nine put their arms around each other and walked together towards the finish line. They were cheered and applauded by everybody in the stadium.

I wish I was there. I would like to have cheered and applauded them, too.

No comments: