Competition is ever-present
Monday, July 22, 2013 3:41 AM
We live in a competitive world. The birds you see at your feeder competed against other birds for food. The mosquito you swatted lost in its competition for your blood, but another may have succeeded. The dandelions in your yard have beaten the grass in several competitions.
Competition is all around us in nature. It's how we came to have concourses of deer waiting along the highway. It's been at the foundation of extinctions and the evolution of ecosystems. It is a psychological force inherently bred in every living thing that allowed our early ancestors to survive, adapt and eventually progress toward our modern circumstances. Such a comprehensive philosophy as this lends many answers to our natural world.
So, why do I just want the Twins to win?
Humans naturally like to compete. In ancient times, competitions of strength, tests of bravery and games of intellect were common ways for participants and spectators to unleash their competitiveness. Native Americans had lacrosse, the Greeks had their Olympics, and Romans had their circus. In modern times, Americans have their football and the rest of the world has their football . . . er, soccer. Competitiveness has not been diluted; rather, it has become more concentrated in every aspect of our lives.
Whether it is in sport, politics, finances or your next-door neighbor, competition naturally arises out of day-to-day situations. Often times, we feel like our stake in the world is being challenged by what a person drives, how they dress and how they talk.
In order to justify our shaken pride, we launch into tangents on foreign policy, brag how many miles-to-the-gallon we get and overhaul our wardrobe. At the very least, we tout our political agenda through social media, sports fanaticism through social media and material gain through social media.
As if by doing that, we really thought it would cause people to say, "Wow, there is no way I can beat this guy in life."
Comment: "You win. lol."
It is in this sense I feel most of our competitiveness is contrived. We spend so much emotional, physical and monetary capital due to an overblown sense of competitiveness that it is downright unhealthy. People build up so much stress from losing, or in many ironic cases of winning, that the only release is through a regrettable act.
In 2011, the Vancouver Canucks National Hockey League team lost Game Seven to the Boston Bruins in Vancouver. It really was the biggest game of the year for Vancouver. Unfortunately, for some people it was apparently the most important moment of their life. Fans proceeded to loot, vandalize and riot in their own city. They caused millions of dollars in damage over a game. A game.
Meanwhile, competition over politics is much more common and even more frustrating when exaggerated.
People become divided over single issues so easily. They compete and adopt the "I'm right, you're not" attitude. We complain about Congress being so divided, but maybe they are representing us more completely than we want to admit.
The competition for power in politics needs to be evaluated seriously because it has direct implications on our lives today and in the future. There needs to be more competitive restraint exercised in politics. The opposite of competition is cooperation. For many, that might be a new word needing definition.
Then there is reality television: the bane of competition's existence. Between idol competitions, profaning chefs and love entanglements is every other ratings-seeking, sympathy-inducing, and video-edited reality show. In a sociological sense, these shows can be interesting and we could draw important lessons and understanding for our own lives. However, let's face it: there are better ways to accomplish that. Focusing on what is real in your life is much more important than pondering who will strike it rich in Storage Wars.
I realize I've attempted to give competition a ridiculous image. We need to remember that competition can be very healthy. It can inspire and motivate. It can lead to failures and disappointment, but ultimately self-improvement and joy. It leads to innovation.
Just as in everything, we need to take a measured approach to competition. We should value what our competitor brings to the table, be willing to cooperate, and then actually cooperate! It can be done.
Now, I have to take a spoonful of my own medicine. It's tough, especially when I'm around my brother. I grew up losing to him in almost every game we played. We're both competitive and enjoy razzing each other about sports. I'll be playing tennis against him soon. I better win.