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"I consider competition to be a mental illness,
hell bent to destroy all who engage, a snake eating its own tail."

Competition is a form of self destruction. Initially, it might seem designed to merely conquer competitors, but repeated, it turns into the opposite of its original intention, ultimately undermining the competitor himself. Even the Ancient Greeks recognized this subtle curse, and counseled great caution whenever engaging as if competition might accomplish something positive in the longer term. How much better to cooperate, though people being people, we seem more than capable of turning even generous cooperation into some form of a Holier Than Thou competition.

The contest seems necessary, though, so we struggle hard to get ahead, to leave the weaker sisters in our dust. Then, of course, we hold culpability for the violence visited upon our weaker sisters.
We might or might not feel any sense of responsibility if we win the race, hardly ever considering the damage left in our wake. We become great equivocators, misinterpreting Darwin or referencing some Old Testament scold. The losers can damned well starve to death for all we winners care. Society as a whole, we insist to ourselves, benefits when the winners dominate and the losers simply fade away. We might just as well have never gone to all the trouble to leave the Jurassic Period behind us. It's still Dog Eat Dog And Pup Eat Puppy, no matter what any individual might need.

Compassion has been lately cast as a deadly sin, a form of social suicide. Cooperation, perverted by the monopolies and combines, has become framed as a toxic form of communism. Those exhibiting compassion and cooperation might be considered enemies of the state, certainly enemies of the enterprise. Community pales in comparison to the Gated Community, which seems more enclave than neighborhood, a citadel segregating the haves from those others who chose to have not, for if we were all created equal; those who sunk to the bottom of the social strata just must have chosen their fates. Thus sayeth the winners.

I'm by most any measure a loser, and a carefully calculated one. I passed on the opportunity to join a fraternity in college, their recruitment spiel prominently featuring the easy ins I'd experience when applying for jobs. I didn't want my world to work like that. I chose to invest the time I could have taken the university up on the full boat graduate degree offer to actively participate in my kids childhood. Again and again, I said, "No!" to opportunities to more decisively win the race. I chose to consider my life to be less a competition and more of a cooperative engagement. I stayed out of the stock market, surrendered my hard earned cash to buskers and panhandlers, and bought better wine than I might have afforded myself. No regrets.

I look at the "shacks" surrounding our more modest Villa Vatta Schmaltz, eight and nine thousand square foot "cabins" suspended from steep hillsides and serviced by private roads, and wonder what those winners achieved. In this life, they stand a scant few hundred feet above me. They drive expensive cars that transport them about as well as our more modest conveyance. I look at retirement wondering how I'll manage to support myself, but that's the same question I've asked myself all my working life, too. I don't feel as though I've sacrificed much of anything. If anything, blessings seemed to have come through unscathed, all the more delightful for their continuing surprise. I can't blame my success upon running over any tortoise and I maintain delightful relationships with several tortoises, too.

I believe that competition tries to goad people into forfeiting their lives. I spent a few years as a driver within a corporation and a few more years consulting with them. I got over it before either occupation utterly destroyed me, though I could see the Judgement Day coming. What if, I wondered, I refused to compete? What if I rejected the misbegotten premise? What if I chose to get on with my life in lieu of plotting anyone else's demise? Could I thrive? Complain if you will about all I failed to contribute to the aptly-named Gross National Product, I'd rather cooperate than compete, show compassion than cut anyone's throat, and, you know, live rather than endlessly strive. I consider competition to be a mental illness, hell bent to destroy all who engage, a snake eating its own tail.

©2018 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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