The other day, my son had his annual sports day in school. He had won the heat and was selected for the final race. However, he was unable to secure any position and stood fourth (or maybe fifth, sixth, seventh) in the final tally. Obviously, he couldn’t step up on the victory stand and wear a medal. While coming back home he started crying that his friends won and he didn’t. I tried to console him a lot but nothing worked and he kept crying and cribbing. My husband heard this and started motivating my son to work harder the next time, put more dedication and the usual pep talks that we give to those who do not win. Exactly then I realized that we put so much emphasis on winning. I tried to give my son examples from movies on sports but saw that probably with the sole exception of Creed starring Sylvester Stallone in all sports movies it is ultimately about winning. Our entire concept of sports is based on Jo Jeeta wohi Sikander.
Not only sports but in every sphere of life, there is literally no space for losers in our society. Be it our family, our workspace, our relationships, and everything. Homo sapiens are competitive and even Darwin said Survival of the Fittest. If anyone is aware of the writings of Michel Foucault they would know how he talked about the marginalization of the non-winners in our society.
Honestly I wouldn’t have thought about all these if my son had won, instead like a typical proud mother, I would have been busy putting up photos of him with his medals on social media with the hashtag #myheroisawinner or something similar because all of us are guilty of inculcating this winner-loser theory and boasting about our victories. At the end, all of us want to win because since childhood we have been trained and programmed by the society that winning is good and losing is bad and therefore at any cost, we have to win. We have to win a promotion, a lover, a house, a lottery, a game of ludo, Instagram followers, awards, trophies, medals, projects, blah blah blah. Our entire life revolves around winning. An entire industry of self-help books exists cultivating this tendency and desire of human nature to win.
However, think of a world without competition for a moment. Think of a life where we do not want to win. Think of a sport where there is no winning. Don’t you think life would have been simpler and stress-free if there was no competition? Don’t you think the world would have been free of jealousy and would have been so much more harmonious? Have you ever heard of the story of Ubuntu?
In an African village, a white man kept candies in a basket and asked few kids from the tribe to race. He said whoever reached the basket first would get all the candies. These kids were malnourished with hardly any good food to eat yet to his surprise the white man saw that all the kids held each other’s hands and formed a chain and moved forward towards the basket together. Then they all shared the candies happily with each other. When the white man asked them why they did not race and win all the candies. Then the kids replied ‘how could one be happy if all the others were unhappy’. They said that in their tribe they believe in the happiness of all instead of happiness of one.
However, in our society, we believe that the fun in a sport is by deciding one ‘happy’ winner at the cost of seven or more ‘unhappy’ losers. We focus on competition and not harmony, we teach our kids to leave others behind and move forward. No wonder we are such an unhappy society by and large. I wish I could have taught my son to practice the concept of ubuntu but unfortunately, I do not belong to the Zulu tribe and my society demands me to raise a ‘trophy kid’ who wins medals and not a happy kid who believes in sharing, compassion, and empathy. For now, let me go back and tend to my sour loser and stop daydreaming about a utopian world that is free of competition, jealousy, and stress.
Linking this post to #MondayMusings hosted by dear Corinne.