Conflict and competition are inevitable in humans from childhood onwards. This is just an aspect of our biological nature. Competition may arise in the form of sibling rivalry, or conflict among pupils in the classroom. Competition for higher grades and participation in sports continues throughout the school years, often encouraged by teachers and mentors. This competition readies us for the business world and military service.
Military action and, to a lesser extent, professional team sports are the most blatant expressions of conflict and competition in society. The business and corporate world are also highly competitive as a matter of course. These examples are common and hardly require repeating. What has really become more common is the politicization and generation of conflict over nearly everything.
Many politicians and pundits have been coaching mundane activities and functions of civilization as left-wing versus right-wing issues. Human rights are framed as leftist ideology and individual rights as rightist views. The scientific method is perceived as a liberal plot; while being anti-science is often seen as conservative thinking. Unfortunately the same trend has been present in medical care–most prominently in vaccination. The moderate view is that vaccines are helpful in furthering health while extremists from the left and right often harbor conspiratorial opinions about vaccines; manifesting in the anti-vax movement.
The very act of me putting these observations into print on a blog can generate conflict and the desire to express contrary opinions. The point I’m bringing up is that many of us are tired of our lives and activities being brought into the political sphere. Can’t we just go about our lives without worrying about some politician, pundit, or religious leader condemning us for doing so? Why can’t they just mind their own business? Could it be that they are using conflict as a method of competing for publicity and power?
On the flip-side, healthy competition has benefited humankind and our world. The Space Race has provided technological and medical benefits as a result of scientific research. Ethical business competition has provided us with safer, more abundant appliances and other goods and services. Even such common activities as athletics and sports provide an outlet for physical conflict resolution as entertainment. Again, this is all obvious to even the most casual observers.
I brought up the topic of competition today only as a reminder that it behooves us to be more careful about getting drawn into the rabbit hole of politicizing our lives. For instance, while I espouse liberal, progressive views, this is not all I am about. The same is true for people who prefer conservatism. In the end, we are human beings. In my opinion, we’ve gone too far by making nearly every aspect of our lives some type of political expression. Humanity would be better served by cooling our heels politically. I posit that “live and let live” is a more effective way to experience life. Then again, this point of view is also controversial.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes electronics professor, engineer, and inventor, Shuji Nakamura. “It’s good to have high-quality competition. It helps drive research forward at a faster pace.”