When Is Competition Counterproductive?

I guess it comes down to the old Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” My parents taught me that lesson through actions and words and I try to apply it in life.

Ron references the Japanese people and their conduct through the earthquake/tsunami/nuclear disaster as an example of people who respect each other, respect their elders, treat each other civilly even in the face of the worst disaster most of them have ever experienced. There haven’t been reports of looting, riots or crime sprees.

I wonder how Americans would react. I’d like to think we’d handle it well, but recent examples don’t support that optimism (students protesting, union workers protesting, non-union workers protesting, democrats and republicans at each other’s throats, different religions at each other’s throats … I could go on but you get the picture).

I guess on a national level, I have to wonder: if we Americans can’t even respect each other more than this on a day-to-day basis, what’s going to happen in a crisis the magnitude of Japan? If we can’t get along as a people, what are we going to do when a common enemy presents itself: will we be too blind to see?

On a global level, on a globe that seems to be getting smaller and smaller, how can we hope to survive as a race if we continue to compete rather than cooperate?

We like to think of ourselves as an advanced species, but our actions would indicate that we haven’t advanced much further than the mouth of the cave where the first ape began discovering his or her opposable thumb.

I think it has to start at the individual level, so here I go. I’m going to take that first step from the cave. Maybe if I try to be more understanding, more forgiving, it will catch on, like the “Pay It Forward” movie. I’m going to try to treat everybody with respect that I expect of them towards me. I’m going to seek first to understand before jumping to conclusions. I’m going to apply the adage: God gave us two ears and one mouth so we can listen twice as much as we talk. I’m going to take the advice of a friend who, on a day when I was particularly blue, advised, “Put a smile on your face and soon you will feel it in your heart,” and I discovered it really works. Go ahead, try it, hold a huge smile for a minute and see if you don’t feel better.

Hey, I’m feeling less Cro-Magnon already … I’m beginning to walk upright and speak in sentences. My forehead feels less flat than it did. I may be on to something. I’ll let you know how this works out.

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One comment on “When Is Competition Counterproductive?

  1. Wiser on said:

    Great article, sir. I’ve often taken a philosophical approach to this very issue and it has come to my attention that competition, more often than not, does indeed become counter-productive. As the infamous President Abraham Lincoln once said, “A house divided cannot stand.” I believe he is correct, it is by this spirit of cooperation and the idea of greatness that should prompt everyone to simply work together. Also an issue of simple mathematics; 2 major and highly effective pharmaceutical corporations working together to improve the quality of life is better than one. Instead of harassing each other, trying to run each other out of business, and/or keeping secrets from each other, they could easily become a more powerful force by simply worked together. I feel almost as if the world is run by children that just want to win rather than act like true adults by overcoming petty differences and prejudices.

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