Some competition isnít worth fight
October 11, 2010 —
I am not much for competition. I donít deny that I love winning games (especially if that game is a marbles game with cards and I beat Bryan Crainer). But in general, I donít like to measure my worth by comparing myself to other people. However, society seems to be moving in a competition driven way of life. Itís hard not to notice subtle competitions that arise between classmates, members of an organization, and even friends.
Competition is a natural process, and it is not always bad. It can often be productive; if one person outpreforming another, the harder worker will hopefully encourage their less industrious counterpart. However, the competitions I have seen lately are not devised in hopes of improving oneís work ethic, but are used merely to make one feel more powerful than another person. Perhaps in my old age, I am just now becoming aware of it. Increasingly, it seems we are trying to compete in things that should not be a competition.
I am not an overly religious person, but I respect those that dedicate most of their spiritual life to a particular religion. I feel that many that find themselves in my similar religionless lifestyle are quick to condemn people that find comfort in a higher being. The only reason these people feel such a desire to criticize a religious lifestyle is because they want to prove their way of thinking is superior to the beliefs of a religious person. Why is it necessary to prove the other person wrong? Perhaps there is no heaven or hell, but when we find out, we are dead anyway and at that point it will be difficult to say, ďI told you so.Ē
The argument can be switched to favor religionless people as well. Religious individuals do not need to try to prove their beliefs to be right because they are merely beliefs. Competition concerning religion is the easiest to recognize, but competition regarding things such as generosity are less noticeable, but equally as prevalent. I am a supporter of TOMS shoes. Putting shoes on children that would otherwise walk barefoot, exposing themselves to disease and infection, is a very noble cause. A dang comfortable pair of shoes isnít a bad thing either.
Last year I attended the TOMS shoes program at which Blake Mycoskie spoke. Before the presentation, students attempted to pass the time more quickly by asking the audience questions. One of the questions posed was something along the lines of who owned the most TOMS shoes. This was an innocent enough question, but I could not help but wonder why it was necessary.
Purchasing a pair of TOMS shoes when you need new shoes is logical: You satisfy your need while doing good for someone else, but owning multiple pairs begins to promote competition regarding generosity. Purchasing more than what one needs at once gives individuals the freedom to show how generous they are. I am not denying that those who purchase TOMS shoes do so with mostly good intentions, but if individualsí concern was placed entirely on putting shoes on children, they would only own a pair or two of TOMS and spend the rest of the money purchasing double the amount of shoes to be given away. Owning more TOMS places a person higher in the generosity hierarchy, TOMS being only a single example.
My problem with competitions such as the ones mentioned above is they condone assessing our self-worth based on standards that arenít our own. If I am confident in my own beliefs, values, and morals, I want to judge my character with criteria I set; I donít want to have to disprove another personís beliefs to feel confident.
There is no point. Regardless of the number of points I bring up against religion, I am not going to change a religious personís point of view. I donít want to change someoneís spiritual beliefs to conform to mine. The beauty of spirituality is that it is unique to every person. Even if someoneís beliefs seem like complete nonsense, we cannot easily disprove them so why spend time trying?
As for the generosity, just because people are more able to give more doesnít make them more caring. In the same way it is impossible to determine whose religious beliefs are correct, it is impossible to set a standard of generosity. The number of TOMS shoes you are able to buy does not show you are more caring than the next student.
My biggest concern is that we are going to tumble into a world in which every aspect of life is ruled by competition. Being able to recognize the difference between necessary and petty competitions is not only a useful skill, but a sign of maturity.