When Winning Replaces SharingWhen Winning Replaces SharingTheme:contest culture, play, Original PlaySummaryDiscussionTranscriptRelated Insights
In preschool, talk to young children, and there's a little squabble over a truck, we will, as adults, interfere and say it's important to be kind and share your truck. Somewhere along the line there it changes from sharing to not sharing. And we aren't honest with children and say remember that sharing I told you about at the pre-school, well now at first grade we don't do that anymore.Coming
I think we've assumed that the only way to survive is by contest. We've just an implicit assumption and we've just gone along with that as human beings and various cultures than frame it in different ways. Our frames it in terms certainly of athletics, certainly education, when children are put in situations even from preschool. Parents are thinking about, well is this going to be Harvard or is my child going to Yale? So that everything is looked at in terms of a hierarchy, looked at in terms of a future goal that the child or the human is supposed to meet. Their all compared with each other, children are compared with each other. Whether it runs in the family, the school, business, the military, those small gangs, all of them function on the basis of survival is more of me, less of you. And as long as the entire culture and everything it does functions that way, it appears that there's no out for any of us. That parents will say, well what do you want me to do? What else is there to do? My child has to do this. I've had CEOs who will say well I have to fire them. What else is there to do? I have to save the company. I have to save - the gang members say the same thing. I had to do it. I had to kill them to be a member.
In order to be a member, that membership requires us to act in ways towards other humans that are destructive. Because the very idea of membership assumes an outside, and that I need to defend myself against. And when you errand the number of outsiders, it's no wonder that all of us don't just end up in mental institutions.
I think most of the time we literally can't think about how God, I'm in contest with the entire world. I'd better just stay home here. I'm not going anywhere because the though is just too overwhelming. And for some people that sense of overwhelmingness gets to them. It may turn out to be when a man or a woman has just had too much and they turn around and really punch the child for spilling their milk, or an adult shoots another adult on the freeway in LA The act of spilling the milk or pulling a car in front of another one, in and of itself is not what caused the aggression, but that feeling of day in and day out being a loser, being not a winner in a culture that only values winners. And we all know, though we try not to bring it to our awareness that in a culture contest most people have to lose. But we don't tell anybody that.
We keep giving children the idea that school is for everyone to succeed and this is where we all want you to blossom and do the best you can and we aren't honest with them and we don't tell them that at some stage in this, we don't want all of you to succeed. In fact if all of you succeed, it tells us that our institution isn't doing its job. That the institution should be ferreting out those people who aren't succeeding. There's an issue of kindness that we aren't honest about that's connected with competition.
In preschool, talk to young children, and there's a little squabble over a truck, we will, as adults, interfere and say it's important to be kind and share your truck. Well we don't say that with companies. We don't say that with teams. That it would nice to share the Stanley Cup with the other team. It would be nice to share markets between Coke and Pepsi. No. But somewhere along the line there it changes from sharing to not sharing. And we aren't honest with children and say remember that sharing I told you about at the pre-school, well now at first grade we don't do that anymore. Now it's just winning. Forget the sharing stuff. And that dishonesty is there and I think fundamentally in us we know what we're doing. We know as adults when the new generation of kids comes and we tell them the things we tell them, and we take away the safety and love that's inherent in their original belonging and we give them instead what's happened to us. We know what we're doing to them.
And that's the whole cultural trap. So that, not only is the child connected in a strand in that kind of a network of the hierarchy of contest, but you are too. The parent is too. The parent is connected by strands within his peer group and those strands run directly to their children. The children's strands are connected in their peer group so that, I have this sense that we feel like we're, each of us are like a knot in a fishing net, and each of those knots, each of those strands coming together in us as a knot says exactly the way you put it. You're going to be a failure if you don't compete in your religion, in your job, in your marriage, in your child rearing, in the car you have and the home you have. So there's no give for us there. And that lack of flexibility, resilience, we pass right down to a child so very early on. That ability of being an incredibly resilient, flexible, creative being who can use intelligence that explores the unknown becomes trapped, taught out of us because we want - all of our expertise has to be focused on making sure I don't fail, and to go into the unknown, I can fail. And that risk becomes way too tough for most of us. Whether we are, can be a 7 or an 8 year old worried about how they look on the street, what clothes they have, do they have sneakers that cost $120.00, to trying out for a team and saying gosh, I don't do anything as well as these kids do. I'm just simply not going to do it then. A man or woman who is caught in a horrible job and wants to try something new, that feels trapped by well I need a home, I need the house, I need this car, I need this standard of living. I can't afford to step out of the contest.
The contest structure does not allow us to step out. There is an illusion as a winner, when you're caught in that knot there is an illusion that the culture likes us as humans, but when we stop winning, as certain athletes and stars have found out, the culture never liked you as a person in the first place. That was an illusion. What they like is the little knot called winner. Who inhabits it is totally irrelevant, makes no difference. Could be a comic character, would make no difference. But once you're in it, because you've totally lost connection with that sense of I'm valuable just because I am and I don't need any of that stuff. My sense of value comes from you. If all of the sudden you don't value me, I don't even know how to go back and find a sense of value in me anymore it's been so long. And I put so much dependence on you.
I mean, there's kind of a duel edged sword here in the contest. On the one hand, it teaches me not to value others so what I do with them makes no difference. I can devalue them as individuals. I can devalue them as groups. And once I devalue them and make them into categories, I can do what I want to them. I can fire them. I can shoot them. What difference does it make? Nothing happens to me. Once that connection is made where you've devalued the other side of the sword, you've devalued yourself. When you don't belong, that's a little bit of self that's been killed off that you can't go back to, or that it's very difficult to go back to.Coming