Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Contests and Competition

I HATE competition! Ok, strong word I realize. Perhaps you prefer detest, despise, loathe or the like. No matter, because hate is the word that accurately describes my feelings about this issue.

Why do we live in such a competitive world where the fastest, most beautiful, sexiest, popular individuals are determined to be superior than others? And thrive or seem to.

Where did competitiveness originate? Did someone invent competitions (and thus the spirit of competitiveness), and, more importantly why...what's the point?

We are bombarded with the competitive spirit daily – through sports including the Olympics, award shows (like the Oscars), talent shows (like American Idol), etc. – in the media, especially on TV and even the internet – look at the list of friends on people’s Facebook page online. Do some people really have 500 friends or more?! I mean, really!

Even though I know a lot of people through various employment, volunteer, education, and community and social events over the years, I still don’t have to have – or want – tons of so-called friends on Facebook or any other social media for that matter. (Perhaps if I had my own business, I might care to have a wealthy network of contacts, but that’s an entirely different matter.)

I can hardly keep up with a few friends in terms of my busy schedule, yet alone emails. I used to love email when it first came out. What a novelty! Now I face the daunting task of choosing which ones to open up and answer. Who has time for that?

The race to compete starts as young as childhood being compared with siblings or relatives or friends (at home); through spelling bees, grades, scholarships (at school); growing into adolescence with peer pressure through friends, social status, clothes; and into adulthood with family, earnings, promotions, assets (house, vehicle), and 'toys' such as technology to cite some examples.

Another example of competitions are contests, that sometimes directly fuel the spirit of winning.

I recently entered one for the ‘Best Conversation Ever’ to have the opportunity to chat with someone of your choosing. Five Canadians would be chosen to win. (On a side note, aren’t we all winners for one reason or another, even in the game of life?)

This is what I wrote: Who immediately came to mind to have the best chat ever with is President Obama.

I would love to, be honoured and delighted and thrilled to speak to this amazing man.

What makes President Obama tick, other than his beautiful wife and children of course!?

How does he make decisions? What inspires him? How does he keep so amazingly calm and steadfast amongst tumultuous storms in political and worldly affairs?

What kinds of books does he love to read? What does he write other than the books he wrote?

I'd also like to discuss spiritual matters, matters of the heart, that are at the core of everyday life, like peace.

During his inauguration, Obama exuded such a quiet and gentle strength that oozed out of him as poise and confidence. His speech was eloquent, yet simple and sincere. I was SO happy when he became President even though I didn't know anything about him. It was just something that I noticed, that I felt.

When I remember, I pray for him and his family. Now, I don't normally do this for Presidents! But Obama, well, he is an exception indeed! And I would love to speak with this wonderful man, this exceptional human being.

Now I know my writing was not the best or would even be deemed as popular (at least in terms of votes) as I wrote this rather quickly, realizing it was the last day of the contest and I was on a relatively tight deadline having other commitments that day.

And I also know that I didn’t say what the true spiritual matters were that I wanted to discuss as I didn’t feel right or ‘safe’ enough to express online. Instead I wrote ‘peace’ as neutral ground. What I felt compelled to ask about was his knowledge of the ‘new kids on the block’ so to speak, including his children most likely.

This contest where I could interview him and ask such things ended up being more of a popularity contest as you needed to acquire (or score) as many votes as possible. I certainly didn’t expect to win this on such a basis. Well I’m not running for President so why should I care for votes or popularity! I just want to speak to the man: wasn’t that the (initial) intent of the contest?

Nevertheless, unbeknownst to the judges and viewers (voters/deciders), I know my heart was sincere and pure in my asking. I mean, not only for the reasons I mention, but I really don’t have any idols in terms of media and the like (that I can think of). Well other than Oprah perhaps, but more for her ability to influence and make a difference in other peoples’ lives for the better and on such a grand scale. Obama would be the only other person that I consider truly inspirational on such a massive level in terms of worldly influence.

Speaking of which, when I was in grade five or six, I started reading biographies of famous people after my teacher read the story of Harriet Tubman. As a result of these stories, I remember thinking that one day I wanted to be famous. Ha! Who was I kidding? I realize now that is not necessarily what I wanted, though I thought it was at the time (and for the longest time).

What I really, really, truly wanted was (and still want is) the opportunity to make a difference in peoples’ lives: a big difference, a major one that would rock the world. (Okay I may be getting a little carried away here. You get the point.)

I’m still waiting to accomplish that, wondering what natural talents and gifts I possess that I can utilize to establish (profound) life-altering changes for others. Instead, for now (and for most of my life), I end up walking a lonely road taking the road less travelled by (as in Robert Frost’s poem) in order to try and achieve this. I’m still pondering as I do my best to pursue the guidance of my spirit. And contests, especially popularity ones, won't necessarily help me.

What are your views on competition? And who would you want to speak with and why? (No, just kidding. I don’t expect you to answer the latter question. That might appear to be combative or antagonistic, i.e., competitive in nature! ;)