Competition – Not Conducive To Compassion

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Flowers don’t compete with one another in their growth. They simply draw from a common sap and slowly begin to express themselves.

Antony de Mello tells the story of a doctor who wrote about the effects of competition on his life. This doctor went to a medical school in Switzerland and discovered a large contingent of American students there.

He described how some of the students almost went in to shock when they discovered that there were no grades, no awards, no Dean’s list, no first and second etc., you either passed or didn’t. Some even became a little paranoid, while others just couldn’t live with it and left. Those who stayed on discovered what for them was a strange thing; they suddenly found themselves helping one another with an intensity they had never experienced before. Their mission became an intense desire to help one another pass.

I don’t want to debate the pros and cons of competition, but it seems to me, in contexts where it’s not an issue, space is always provided for deeper expressions of compassion, understanding and support.

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About Don

I love life. Sometimes it makes sense, other times not. Discerning its underlying patterns and beauty always provides great reward and meaning and is a passion I ineptly follow. I feel deeply attached to nature and love the sea with its distinct moods and colour and find walking along its beaches wonderfully inspiring. Writing, sketching and photography is a sheer joy for me and the blog is one of the places I am able to express these pursuits.
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36 Responses to Competition – Not Conducive To Compassion

  1. We Americans are thrown off our game when there is no winner.

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  2. renxkyoko says:

    Excellent post.

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  3. Healthy A-Z says:

    I love it! I had forgotten about this, but we had no grades in my high school. (It was a public school, but it was experimental.) You worked at your own speed and when you passed a section you moved on to the next one. You could take a “test” as many times as you needed to pass. Many of the faster ones encouraged and helped the slower ones. It actually worked well. And it was fun!

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    • Don says:

      Sounds marvellous. I like the way you say, “And it was fun.” That phrase in itself says much about the school. When learning is fun then what is being done is obviously hitting the mark. It must have been such a good experience for you. What I also like about what you say is how the “faster ones encouraged and helped the slower ones.” Isn’t that what it’s all about? Wonderful! Thank you for sharing.

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  4. What a great concept!

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  5. nrhatch says:

    Wonderful thoughts, Don. Competition is NOT always the best way to move around life’s track.

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  6. lolarugula says:

    A fantastic concept and a great post – I’m intrigued by this! Here in the U.S. there’s definitely too much emphasis put on the competition sometimes and not enough on the compassion.

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    • Don says:

      Appreciate your comment. I agree with you. I too feel that there’s too much competitiveness in the world. I don’t think we realize the amount of alienation it causes. But then it also has an energizing and constructive side to it in life. Thanks again for your comment.

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  7. Wonderful post! I have shared it on Facebook. I agree wholeheartedly. Whilst competition has an important place in society, at other times it can be detrimental. Wonderful example of how taking away the competitive elementbrings out a much better person. Thanks for sharing, Don. 🙂

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    • Don says:

      Thanks Linda and also thank you for sharing it. As you say, and I agree with you, competition does have it’s place, but has really become all out of proportion.

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  8. wisejourney says:

    Very much like. Thank you

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  9. Wonderful idea! I’ve never heard of this before except in the way some families homeschool. Thank you, Don.

    Blessings ~ Wendy

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  10. Greg says:

    We had a high school system of A stream and B stream for those deemed to be brighter or dimmer respectively. Talk about pressure to achieve. Also the format of exams with the clock ticking did not suit my nature at all. I once had the honor of my name being read out at assembly for coming first in my class with the lowest percentage ever in school records! But then I took a college art course on weekends where the format was open ended and interactive, and this enlightened me. I also played semi-pro music for years with musicians way better than me, but boy did I learn how to cope.

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    • Don says:

      Hell, Greg, what an achievement – lol. Love that. I know that system so well, I too was caught up in it. What a difference when you compare those other two experiences of yours. Surely that’s what it’s all about. Thanks for sharing Greg.

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  11. Dianne says:

    Thanks Don – I wholeheartedly agree and actually find myself ‘rooting’ for the loosing side/person in any match/game – with the prayer that – although i know that the rules say someone must win and someone must loose – the winning /loosing margin would be narrow. The recent cricket games have been – for me – lousy

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  12. Oh, for a touch of Switzerland every once in awhile. We really need it. Too much competition, even when there’s no need to compete. Thanks for a great post.

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  13. ladyfi says:

    I so agree. Competition isn’t big over here in Sweden either.

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  14. darrelhoff says:

    wow this is very cool. I am involved in an indoor soccer league and outdoor soccer team here. and for me, we dig winning (doesnt always happen), but i am more concerned about the boys on the team. Who are they as people? i want to break the hold of: arrogance, selfishness, etc over their lives.

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  15. Don says:

    Glad you liked it Darrel.

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  16. vps says:

    This blog is amazing. I realy like it!

    Like

  17. beeseeker says:

    Altruism – got to be the best way…!

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