In my first lecture at the university, a lecturer gave a speech that troubled my conscience for a long time. He said;
“You are here to compete among each other to see who comes up first. During your graduation, those who had first class honours would be given a huge standing ovation by all the dignitaries present, cups would be lowered as you walk to the podium for your certificate.
The rest of you who don’t make it to the top, your names would just be mentioned without an applause, you would walk through the crowd like a shadow, without any grace. Therefore, if you want to be recognized, you have to fight with all that is within you. Learn like there’s no tomorrow, burn the night’s candle and in the end, your name would be honoured.”
This speech replayed over and over in my mind. I began to ask myself questions; Is that all there is to success? Can’t we all succeed together? Should there always be losers and winners in all the things we do? These questions led me on to take a reflection on how our society has become so competitive to the detriment of everybody.
A tulip doesn’t strive to impress anyone. It doesn’t struggle to be different than a rose. It doesn’t have to. It is different. And there’s room in the garden for every flower. You didn’t have to struggle to make your face different than anyone else’s on earth. It just is. You are unique because you were created that way. Look at little children in kindergarten. They’re all different without trying to be. As long as they’re unselfconsciously being themselves, they can’t help but shine. It’s only later, when children are taught to compete, to strive to be better than others, that their natural light becomes distorted. -Marianne Williamson
We were introduced to competition very early in life. As kids, we were seen as good kids only when we become first in our class. Party would be thrown specially for us to drum home the need for every kid to be like us. Even our idea of fun has element of competition.
Do you remember the “Chair Dance”? where I was, it was called “Dancing-Around-the-Chair” where the chairs are always one less than the number of kids dancing around it. When the music stops, the kids scramble to sit on the chair, the one who do not get to sit on a chair is eliminated. Each round eliminates one player and one chair until finally a single triumphant winner emerges.
Everyone else has lost and been excluded from play for varying lengths of time. This is our idea of how children should have fun. In effect, we have been taught that our success requires the failures of others; our fates are negatively linked. In another words, two or more individuals cannot achieve a goal at the same time. In all cases, one has to lose.
Look at what society has turned us into; natural opponents, adversaries and rivals. All the things that are supposed to entertain us are making us turned against one another. On the field of football, the team on the other side of play is called an “Opponent”; It is, therefore, difficult to maintain a feel good attitude about someone who is your opponent and trying to make you lose. We hardly see smiles among players on the field of play.
They would do anything to win, even if it takes hurting one another. The common meaning of the game; to entertain spectators, is lost to us until a win is gained. After winning what happens? The euphoria of victory fades very quickly. Both winners and losers wake up the next day to find they need something more than just wining. Victory is gradually forgotten, and the next phase of life begins.
“We were taught a very bad philosophy,” says Marianne Williamson, “a way of looking at the world that contradicts who we are. We were taught to think thoughts like competition, struggle, sickness, finite resources, limitation, guilt, bad, death, scarcity, and loss. We were taught that things like grades, being good enough, money, and doing things the right way, are more important than love. We were taught that we’re separate from other people, that we have to compete to get a head, that we’re not quite good enough the way we are.”
Life was very simple when our eyes got opened at this graceful side of the universe. Bliss was our innocence that we didn’t care a lot about what we have or what we didn’t. We were so much aware of nothing than to live and let others also live. The look of my shoes didn’t bother me a lot as far as I have something to cover my feet, occasionally I would walk bear footed because I believed these feet were made for walking.
Ooww life was so beautiful that ugliness was so far hidden. Then things changed. New ideas were fed into our little minds that required us to compete our way through life. We were made to see the essence of self-worth only when we are ahead of our fellow human. Our individual ways of doing things was said to be not good enough. Gradually we obliged, and our world was lost to us, forever.
Today, what do we see? Bitter rivalry born out of unnecessary competition from one another. Instead of cooperating to succeed as a team, we prefer to outdo each other. We prefer to hear people sing our praises and condemn our fellow human. We prefer to compete than give each other a helping hand.
The good news is we still have time to go back to the basics. There’s a lot of time to make a change if we want to. Let’s begin to go back to be what we used to be. Let’s put love in place of competition. Let’s begin to think we can all win together…it is possible. Let’s learn to lend a hand.
Let’s our generation be the generation that returned to love!