Classicaly, in sports, if I win, you lose. We cheer for our teams, the horse we put a bet on, the boxer we like, our country in the Olympics – and if my guy wins, yours inevitably loses.
But is this really a win?
I watched a video the other day featuring a whole bunch of athletes in different sports – and all different ages – giving up their chance to win in order to help a opponent. In some cases they were disabled or perhaps injured – but these people saw a bigger win – that helping someone else, that having a heart full of compassion and acting on it – that was the true win.
Our idea of winning in sports has spread to how we live in our society. There is an old saying, “How I do one thing is how I do everything.” In other words, watch how someone plays a game – that’s how they do life. But I also think that the way we have been playing games in the western world for the past hundred years or so has enormously informed how we do life. There must be a winner and a loser. I get the promotion – you don’t. I win! I get a raise, I climb the corporate ladder – I’m winning – beating out the competition.
There is competition for everything. We see it in countries – we see it in war – winner and loser and then, of course, winner takes all.
Our economy is based on this idea – that there isn’t enough to go around and there are winners: the one percent who get richer and richer (winners!) and the rest of us – losers. We even see it in our slang. Someone isn’t doing well? We call him a loser – right?
Here’s the thing – this way of seeing life is not working. I read a great article on it today.
It’s worth the read. I took a long walk this afternoon, mulling over this idea that we’ve been doing it wrong for a very long time. But rather that go with the reasoning aspect, as this article does so well, I thought about feelings. I thought about the video of athletes helping others – of any of us helping out and extending a hand to a fellow human being. And I thought about how it feels to do that.
I think there are two different factors inside all of us – two feelings that pull at us. There is that rush of winning – the gold medal! The promotion! Whatever it is, it gives us a rush. It’s a juicy high. But when we do something kind – something that will never benefit us – when we do something just because it’s the right thing to do and will help another being, we feel something different. This emotion runs deeper and is much harder to explain: it’s a feeling of the spirit and rather than a momentary rush that fades, this feeling stays and grows and adds to our sense of worth.
As humans, I believe we have to reshape our thinking and our society quite utterly. We are at our best when we care about one another, when we work for the betterment of others, when we give of ourselves and when we strive to build a society that helps.
Think of the difference between Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders and you have the essential thing I’m talking about – the winning and enriching the self versus the care for humanity.
I wish I could start a revolution. I can’t. But people like Sanders are doing that in the only way possible – through the principles they live by. I can support that by supporting those principles.
By seeing the much bigger picture.
I win when you win. If we are playing a “game” where one of us has to lose in order for the other to win, we both lose. The only game that works is win/win. If this planet is to survive and thrive, we have to make sure that every being – every creature – wins.
Maybe those sucky teachers and coaches who give kids a trophy just for participating aren’t so far off the mark after all.