Competition

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The morning drive to work is a fairly new routine for me. It is a daily exercise in patience and humility…which I think is good for me, although uncomfortable. It’s had me thinking about the drivers and their desire to be first. My other morning ritual in patience and humility is the High School and Middle School parking lots for drop off. I am sometimes astounded by people’s desire to get out of their first and the lengths they go to accomplish this goal.

The American Dream has bred an interesting character trait in our culture…competition. It is everywhere!  Parents competing to have the smartest kid or most talented kid. Neighbors competing to have the nicest house or nicest car. States competing to have the most funding or most aid. Corporate employees competing to climb the ladder the fastest and highest. I’m all for a healthy spirit of competition, but when did our fellow human beings become things to beat and destroy?

It makes me ask the question…”What do we think we are going to win?”  If I cut off another parent in the parking lot so that I can exit 30 seconds faster, what is my prize? If my husband cuts corners to get ahead at work, does he win anything? If I go into exorbitant debt to compete with my neighbors new toys, where is my medal? If my teenager puts her classmates down on a quest to be the best, does she really win?

If I am constantly seeing people as my competition, I can never see them as humans in need of patience, love, and grace. The competitive characteristic requires me to sacrifice my humility, and in so doing, I am unable to serve others. Living my life in the constant drive to win makes it almost impossible to put anothers needs before my own. In order to live a life of love and serving others with humility, I can’t be on an aggressive quest to win.

So the question remains…Are we really winning anything? Is our quest to be the best making us more loving? Is the desire to be first cultivating hearts that serve our neighbors? Is this culture of competitiveness creating better communities?

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