Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Let's Get Something Clear

At any given moment, you will see at least one competition happening between at least two opposing sides: disagreements between friends, arguments between siblings, fist-fights in the schoolyard, boxing matches, football games, even a race to see who gets in front of a line of traffic, who can get to the store earliest to get the best deals.  Our favorite TV shows pit singers, dancers, even traveling pairs against each other week after week until there is one left standing.  The winner gets a trophy, money, a title.  Sometimes the competition is between one person and the world: we suffer through the incessant one-upmanship of a person who proclaims to be the best, the champion, the ultimate success, of a parent’s immodest crowing of his or her child’s accomplishments. 

In the weeks leading up to Election Day in our country, competition is everywhere.  Neighbors supporting opposing sides display signs for their favorite candidates on front lawns.  Presidential debates are not just discussions; we pore through the newspapers, read articles online and watch the news to see who ‘won’ the argument in a forum that formally defines no clear winner or loser.  Things get ugly.  Everyone aligns with a side; the other side is silly, wrong, immoral, unimportant, evil, the enemy.  We want to be the top, the leader, the winner.  When we win, too often than not bragging rights are assumed, and sportsmanship, common courtesies, and humility are forgotten.

Being a generally non-competitive person in a world where everyone seems to be at each other’s throat is a little isolating.  I wish there was less competition and more cooperation, less smack-talk and more kind words.  I respond to uninvited competition by refusing to play.  When someone tries to draw me into battle, I smile.  I’m not interested.  I’d rather do anything else than play a game just to see who wins.  Despite this wishing upon a star for more flowers and less fencing, I concede that there are situations where there must be a winner.  Like a presidential election.

JFK said “Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer.”

I allow that for every competition.  Let the right answer rise to the top, the most deserving victor win.  Sometimes what is right is very foggy, and people cheat to get across the finish line first.  Sometimes what is right only comes out later, and the fraud isn’t always corrected.  Our world often allows more wrong than right, and our belief systems get twisted and warped until what is wrong seems right, and what is right is lost. 

And then sometimes, the right answer isn’t clear, and the best one has to do.
Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer,
but the right answer. 
Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. 
Let us accept our own responsibility for the future. 
-John F Kennedy


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