Can I harvest peace if I sow competition?
Contribution by Isabel Hernández Negrín, Las Palmas, Canary Islands, Spain.
This competition refers to the impulse, the rush to obtain something that others have or to which many people aspire. I believe it may form part of our most primitive legacy: that of wanting to occupy a good position to survive and reproduce. To want to stand out from the crowd in order to gain a reward, whether it is the recognition of our peers, to conquer the heart of a girl/boy or to arrive first to get the best seat on the bus.
Based on the examples mentioned above, it seems that competition always has an element of demonstrating that I can, of rivalry. We may even be glad about other people’s failures. It is not difficult to realise that constantly competing is quite exhausting, that it does not encourage peace, but quite the opposite. It makes us intolerant of frustration and criticism.
Despite this, our basic social upbringing invites it. At school, in our families or at work we are encouraged to be the best, rather than to fulfil ourselves on a personal level, to understand or to cooperate.
We are urged to fight, to consider others as our rivals. But this is just the result of upbringing, so we could bring others up and educate ourselves in a different way. Is it possible to live without competing? Some would say that in our society it is impossible. Is that true? Is it really necessary these days? We are entitled to question it. After all human beings have other qualities instilled in them as standard. We might take note of what we are doing and decide to stop doing it, might we not? It has been studied scientifically that when we do things for others we feel a greater and more lasting satisfaction than when we do something that is just for our own benefit. Why not give it a try then? What do we have to lose? We will just lose the anxiety of competition, of comparisons and insecurity. As a reward, we gain peace and clarity about what we really want or need. With competition there is no peace.
I believe that it is worth trying it.