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The Gravity of Competition
The Gravity of Competition
The Negative dust of the crumbled walls of Human civilization
Competition at its full edges, and global cooperation in its guise form- the main engine of capitalism, has brought us this far; knowledge explosion and extortion, economic celebrities and slavery, social justice and injustice, environmental rehabilitation and global warming, and spiritual revivalists and fanaticism.
Competition is the backbone of major economies and policies in the world today and as Professor Maurice E. Stucke questioned; “Is competition always good?”
In what area of your life is competition affecting negatively?
The global agenda is still on fostering the search and dialogue for possible universal model to balance the scale of consumption of earth resources and the restoration, war and peace, financial freedom and abject poverty and sickness and happiness, e.t.c. This search has been long and has motivated many think tanker for the past five decades to recommend many answers to few questions, leaving us with many “what if’s” questions. For instance; “what if the unthinkable happens?”, “what if there are no frameworks as to how best to live sustainably and still want our children-children live?”, “what if we abandon the poor and find solution for ourselves” and “what if the only solution is to abandon growth, feed the poor and empower the weak among us?”these and other questions including the ones in your mind right now call for a brief moment of silent and reconditioning of our mind to reconsider the main driver of the reality of our time.
Competition adds fuel to the flames of invention, investment and innovation and at the same time, and competition advocacy is also thriving internationally, they are fund of promoting competition among nations, organizations and even at homes. Of a truth competition may serve a better purpose if not used to create a gap between the rich and poor or generating a win by all means character. Competitions in sports offer opportunities for job and solace, at school, could motivate students to expand their capabilities and talents and at workplace, it serve the industries well in increasing their productivity, improve quality of goods and services and could also improve workers self worth as they reach new goals. At the flip side of the coin, competition if permitted in all areas of life ends up doing more harm than good. It breeds egocentrism and dominance. One important issue is when competition makes people less cooperative; as in the case example of “tragedy of the common”, selfishness, exploiting consumers’ biases and free-riding, reduces contributions to public goods, and leaves society worse off.
To illustrate my points against excessive competition, let’s take a look at what happen at the lithospheric plate boundaries for instance, these are areas that experience the highest form of intercontinental cooperation and competition among the major blocks in the tectonic world. When two plates converge, the less dense plate will glide over the denser one and in the process, folds and build mountain chains all around while the denser one will be buried underneath. It is during this process among the rest which include plate divergence and plate translipping that major earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions take place in the world, causing huge amount of catastrophes to human society. The hypothetical illustration above is what the competitions that our civilization built its structures upon, have cost mankind today. The roots have stemmed evil branches, leaves and fruits that kept humanity under its checks and balances. Do we need to criticize the obvious and say Darwinian vision on intense competition among plant or animals in a given niche results in dying off of the weak majority and survival of the strong minority is just a theory? One does not need Evolutionary science degree to under the above truth. Therefore, should we now leave our civilization in the hands of globalization of competition to a “dying off of the weakest and the survival of the strongest” fate?
There is nothing done today, without staying under the shade of this strong tree called competition. The wind it generates has been the engine driving development and has kept directing our plans, running our careers, families, relationships down to causing us to mentally and physically create enemies within those systems. Oftentimes, we resort to compete the moment any conceivable idea comes to our mind on how to live well, love, learn and even how to rest in peace through the various religious groups and their doctrines.
Competition has built a system of ego-reliance. Humanity no longer functions purely, but to compare identity, forms, status, class and even our God-given intelligence with those of others. Our shared elements and aspirations have been sacrificed on the altar of individualism.
Countless wars and conflicts have been fought and won across nations, cities and clans, industries, homes and circle of friends and communities due to competitions and the aftermaths remain the root cause of lack of trust and the inability to build lasting relationship between nations, races and organizations around the world. The quest for superiority and dominance is unavoidable if we have competitive edge and dead-line (which attract incentives anyway) as slogan for progress and to a worst extent that the pursuit for knowledge and understanding will be reduce to quest for power.
Has competition helped you improve yourself in life?
As a result of competition, man has dominated his kind to the fullest and still remains a slave to his weakness. Like the words of Jean Jacques Rousseau; “Man is born free; and everywhere he is in chains. One thinks himself the master of others and still remain a greater slave than they.” The negative effects of competition remain even greater to the perceived losers themselves. For example, the reasons behind the high depression and suicide rate in many countries today, is nothing more than the casualties’ perceived low self-worth images of themselves as compared to others in term of beauty, finance, grades and other form of things they valued and therefore loose themselves in. Majority now live in order to please others or to be seen as idles. What drives them becomes the desire to subdue others or the fear of failure and as a result, resort to living a credit lifestyle; buying things in order to raise their self esteem. In the past, the concepts of sustainability, fairness, and profitability generally were seen as conflicting as Porter and Kramer observed, but under a shared value worldview, these concepts are reinforcing. Profits can be attained by companies, not through a competitive race to the bottom, but in better helping address societal needs. As economists that study happiness and subjective well-being conclude, “higher-income aspirations reduce people’s satisfaction with life” and firms keep mounting and imposing negative externalities on people and environment due to competition to produce more.
Our ecosystem is in peril due to man’s uncontrolled manner of consumption and growth. The weight of our wastes is so heavy that our planet now signals a red alarm, warning us to tailor our rates to her bearing capacity lest we face her reproach and perish together. We are still building industries, expanding our coast even when the seas keep bushing them back, forcing us to relocate or embrace what we see when she cries out loud as typhoon and extreme weather events and we keep making pledges, pointing fingers to develop sustainably, yet majority wants to remain competitive, taking us back to the root of the evil tree driving our planet crazy.
To reengineer and remodel the engine behind which our progress should lie, would call for a global mind-shift and a consensus agreement as to why we should compete at all and on what basis and degree, should humanity cling and eat the fruits of this tree. Such would be able to divorce competition from our system and encourage it subtly in certain sector like sports and games for the sake of recreation alone. The moral and ethical contents shouldn’t be avoided in any social, political, economic and environmental discourse. The host of the new questions about the world-views in transit, a concept discussed by Herman Bryant and Susan E. Mehrtens and was influenced by the works of Alvin Toffler’s waves of change, that epitomizes the shift from second wave through the third to the fourth wave which include; Are we making money to are we creating values?, are we competing well to are we understanding needs?, are we acting as global leaders to are we acting as global stewards? The authors went further to expose some of the civilization slogan in transition. They include the second wave’s “we are separate and must compete”, through the third wave’s “we are connected and must cooperate” to the fourth wave’s “we are one and choose to cocreate”, exhort us to live in this time with a better vision. We must set our primary focus on identification of the needs and values as the citizens of the world define these for themselves and make an intellectual shift from wanting to beat the competition to wanting to serve and cocreate, committed to serve as global stewardship they recommend.
The concluding part of this article was influence by the teachings of Jesus Christ and the writings of Eckhart Tolle.
Porter and Kramer (ibid) 64, 66 (Shared value ‘involves creating economic value . . . for society by addressing its needs and challenges’ and ‘enhancing the competitiveness of a company while simultaneously advancing the economic and social conditions in the communities in which it operates.
- Stutzer and Frey (n 142) 691; Richard Layard ‘Happiness & Public Policy: A Challenge to the Profession’ (2006) 116. The Economic J C24–33.