Saturday, April 7, 2007

Just for once, be a big fat LOSER

Gentle reader,

It is rare that a day passes without news of people lying, cheating and stealing.

From secretaries to politicians to CEOs, why does it seem that dishonorable people are everywhere?

I wonder if one reason might be that we are taught from an early age the importance of winning above all else.

Winning at baseball.

Winning at soccer.

Winning at football.

Winning at school.

Winning at college.

winning at your job

winning the dating game

Winning, winning, winning, winning, always frigging winning.

It is no coincidence that "LOSER!" is a particularly harsh insult in the US and elsewhere.

When we are told to win at all costs (and make no mistake, we get this message from an early age and it never stops), it is not surprising that many people bend and break the rules to live up to those demands. Which means...

Students cheat on assignments and tests.

Soccer players elbow each other and pretend to be injured.

Parents cheat to help their children succeed.

Teachers cheat on behalf of their children so that their school gets a good grade.

People lie on their resumes to get a job.

Salespeople lie to get people to buy things.

Companies lie in commercials to get consumers to buy things.

Politicians lie and manipulate to get people to vote for them.

Scientists bend the truth (lie) to get grants or gain prestige (their version of winning).

And so on. It never ends.

What is the real outcome of all this winning and who is better off as a result?

Well usually, if someone wins, someone else loses.

Many religions have the concept of the "golden rule" - don't do to other people what you wouldn't want done to you.

It's a simple rule, but it gets trampled in our quest to win everything.

At the end of the day, we are all going to the same place. A hundred years from now, who will care that we "won" these things?

I respectfully disagree with the premise that we must win everything.

In particular, when faced with a choice between winning, and being honorable, why not consider choosing the latter? At least once in a while. We poor losers will thank you.

Time for today's quote:

"I believe in aristocracy, though - if that is the right word, and if a democrat may use it. Not an aristocracy of power, based upon rank and influence, but an aristocracy of the sensitive, the con-siderate and the plucky. Its members are to be found in all nations and classes, and all through the ages, and there is a secret understanding between them when they meet. They represent the true human tradition, the one permanent victory of our queer race over cruelty and chaos. Thousands of them perish in obscurity, a few are great names. They are sensitive for others as well as for themselves, they are considerate without being fussy, their pluck is not swankiness but the power to endure, and they can take a joke. "
-EM forster

Until the next time, gentle reader, I remain,

Your friend,

Buford Twain

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