Winter Feast for the Soul: Day 8 Competition vs. Cooperation

The football season is winding down, but not without the excitement of the two games that will determine who makes it to Super Bowl LI (51). All the teams’ play the regular season with the hopes of moving to the game of glory, the Champions. When playing a sport or game of course there will be winners and losers, that’s the nature of competition, but when should we be competing and when should we be cooperating?

Is daily life a competition? I’ve heard people say they are playing against themselves and I’m not sure I understand that concept. I understand trying to improve, but playing against oneself seems at odds with the notion of striving for excellence. If we cooperate with ourselves I believe we’ll increase the compassion we have for ourselves and can learn to acknowledge our strengths and weakness, celebrating the strengths and working on the weaknesses.

Our political system has left the idea of statesmanship in the dust. We’ve become a country where the only thing that matters is who wins. The truth is when we think this way everyone loses. There is an African proverb that says, “If you want to get somewhere fast go it alone. If you want to get somewhere far go with others.” When speaking about a country of over three hundred million people I would think we would want to go far and that requires cooperation.

Embroiled in competition leads to hostility cutting off most opportunities for communication. Competition requires a loser and when we lose we diminish our sense of hope and possibility. When we live in a culture of pure competition we so focused on winning that those who get hurt, left behind, or ignored aren’t a concern creating an existential wound that would take generations to heal.

During my meditation I was looking at the areas in my life where cooperation would further peace of mind and uplifting my spirit. I thought about with whom could I begin conversations of inquiry not attacks of persecution. I’m always open to learning because I know I don’t have all the answers. I’m willing to engage in a dialogue so I can understand differing points of view. I strive to be inclusive in all my exchanges both personal and professional.

I’m hoping we can leave competition on the field and embrace the notion and the actions associated with cooperation!!


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