Sunday, August 10, 2008

So many loosers

I watched a little bit of the Olympics today.  Its easy to get swept up in all the hype and epic stories, match-ups and glorious new world records.  The coke and credit card ads between each race give everything a nice shinny gloss.

Something has been bothering me for a while about professional sports, with the Olympics everywhere, my doubts have resurfaced.  It has to do with the fundamental premise of the games:  competition.

If anything the Olympics are the pinnacle of the competitive ethic that permeates our society right to the foundations.  So much so, that its very difficult to talk about competition objectively.  The idea of competition being good, is one of those fundamental assumptions, like God is good, that we just take for granted.  

But is competition good?  Sure Micheal Phelps is having a blast winning some medals.  But each time he wins, there are losers.  Lots of them!  For his moment of glory there is the anguish of defeat for many others.  Sure, everyone strives really hard to win and a certain type of human excellence is achieved-- but at what cost?  So many leave unfulfilled.  Nationalism becomes fierce.  World borders and antagonisms seem more distinct than ever before.

The very act of striving for an objective in the future, pulls one out of the moment.  You are focused on winning a race, not on the act of running or swimming.  Many would argue that this distracted state is spiritually unhealthy.  The goal of "winning" being "better than" is all about pulling out of the moment.

The social parallel to this I see in the streets of New York.  You have the high-fluting well dressed people zooming around keeping up their winning life-style, while homeless people who have failed to fit in and keep up, are discarded on the side lines, forgotten.  

I feel that I am not doing a very good job of articulating my feeling on this.  Part of it is discerning if there is a viable alternative to competition.  I am going to do some reading and post some more thoughts on this.  Comments are welcome!

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