The Competition Illusion - Gratitude Journal

posted on: January 9, 2017

The election cycle added a renewed level of divisiveness, competitiveness, and intolerance into our American culture and ideas of freedom.  It's not like it isn't there all along, we just seem to get extra divisive when it comes to politics as we seek to define governing philosophy for such a diverse country of people and interests.  Our dominant two party political system with one winner takes all electorates, our competitive team against team finals bracket sports culture, and even our survivor reality show mentality all strive to create a culture of winners and losers, and increased competitiveness... but at what cost?

Where are the examples of civility and working together to make everyone stronger?  Examples of how compromise, listening, and negotiating in situations actually create more winners and mutually beneficial situations rather than people having to vote each other off of the imaginary island until we find ourselves alone, doing it all by ourself, and without any friends or family?  Does anyone actually want to be the lonely sole survivor?

Ceiling Curves and Creative Tiling - Gustavo Tile NYC City Hall

This idea of competition is something that we create and cultivate.  Life is actually far more rich, rewarding, balanced, and fun when we can share it peacefully with people who have a variety of views and cultural backgrounds.  If we can listen to one another without claiming that we are right and someone else is wrong, and instead, simply acknowledge that there are many different ways of looking at the world and that it's reasonable to have different perspectives based on different life experiences, we can approach people with different perspective more kindly and fairly rather than trying to determine who is a winner or loser in their ideals.

As a musician, I came to understand that a work of music was far more powerful when everyone was using their individual instrument or voice to their own personal best, while learning how to blend and harmonize it with everyone else around them.  When we were all able to achieve that together, the result was transformational for the audience and for us as musicians because together we created something far more amazing than any one of us would have been able to create alone- and we were all winners in the process.  No one had to be a loser in order for everyone to be a winner.  A collaboration that honors individual and diverse contributions creates a more beautiful gestalt.

One candle can light thousands of other candles, and it doesn't need to be extinguished in order for another candle to be lit.  If we can help light each other's candle, without diminishing our own or anyone else's, we can create a world that is less about competition and more about cooperation. When more people can see themselves as winners through mutual collaboration rather than through creating enemies or losers, we can work toward creating even more peace and abundance for all people rather than just a few.

This abundant sphere was designed to be shared for mutual benefit.  The ocean touches millions of people on thousands of shores without bias or deference for one shore or one people.  Can we find our bodies, made of 75% water to adopt the same level of welcoming as the ocean does at every shore?  The air we breathe is shared by all and we must find ways to continually make it clean and healthy while also working with industries that support our other wants and comforts.  While we think we own the land, it is only cultivated and built upon by people for certain durations of time, but it is mother nature and larger planetary forces which ultimately determine what is kept and destroyed over time, making it even more important to be in touch with how we all share our natural resources with each other and with the world at large.

I am grateful to have traveled the world as a witness to the many ways we can live cooperatively by recognizing ways to balance the many different needs of people and the planet.  I look forward to more of that awareness increasing with the hope that societies and governments around the world can become less focused on competition and more focused on collaboration.

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