“Do good things and good things will happen to you.” from ‘My name is Earl’, US comedy series (which used to be) running on channels all over the world (and is now probably degraded to early morning status).
[Re-posted from The Old Site, original dated 28-01-2008. Even heavy, overweight blogs sometimes try to lighten up – although this is not yet exactly lightweight. It’s a bit confused but with a high dose of benevolence there’s something in it for those with an open mind.]
It should be as simple as that. And maybe it is. I doubt whether anyone has ever really tried. Nature is competition, one cannot argue with that and I certainly will not argue against that. Does that mean we have to take our competition personally? Is there a thing that can be called ‘our’ competition?
In a certain sense the answer is, and undoubtedly twice, ‘yes’. I feel the urge to achieve something, you feel it too. What we achieve we need to be able to ascertain as having been achieved or, at the very least, as being achieved. The yardstick, measure or the key performance indicator in my case necessarily involves you. In your case it involves me – you don’t need to know me but to (think you) know me definitely helps (for instance in finding this text a failure that you would not never be capable of).
So far so good: those having problems with any a competition have problems with themselves. Competition generally is good fun. It is the type of thing we like to entertain. It is a reality check and a little piece of harmony with nature. It’s entertaining, and entertainment is a good thing. Doing good things includes competing. Good things happening to you includes you being competed against (and sometimes maybe even winning).
But the time has come to say ‘but’. Taking something personally requires just one person, namely you (or I, if it is I who takes it personally). I need not be in the business of ensuring your personal loss to ensure my personal gain, or so I at least guess. One of the grand discoveries of neo-Darwinism is that there are many other games to be played than zero sum games. My competition is against my target and if there is to be our competition in any genuine sense of the word, then it is against our target i.e. not against you or me as a target (at least if I or you can avoid being tempted to annihilate each other or, in other words, if I and you refrain from posing an existential threat to each other).
Nature may be competition but nature allows for friendship. In the case of us humans friendship is – psychiatric cases left aside – essential. I could not take anything personal if others did not provide me with the environment in which to develop my personality. Friendship is not opposed to competition, it just is a specifically sublime environment for competition to drive the most wonderful evolution. In the end all of us compete to create a context in which creativity is virtually unrestricted (and entertainment virtually certain). A context in which people do good things knowing that good things wíll happen to them.
Whenever we wouldn’t be accused of thusly naïvely oversimplifying our world, we will have reached the ultimate state of sweet decadence 😉