Wednesday, June 17, 2009

"Winners" and "Losers"

I am continually shocked at the cavalier way the terms "winners" and "losers" are used in public policy debate, particularly regarding healthcare in the United States. If someone dies because of a healthcare snafu, isn't everyone a loser? Isn't there any sense of collective responsibility or collective benefit, or collective loss. Is the vestigial anti-communism so deep and so compulsive that we our discourse on public policy has to assume we are all monads, or nuclear family groupings. The terms "winners" and "losers" come directly from sports. The mythology in America is that participation in organized sports by children is the highest and best way to foster "values." But there is no query into what these values are. The most fundamental value that underlies organized sports (i.e. that lead to tournaments, etc.) is the zero sum gain, that there is one winner and one loser. This concept is behind all the problems I see in America (and increasingly, the world) today. It justifies greed, and doing horrible things to other people and the earth. We believe competition is a positive in itself, a cure-all, and you can't get in its way or you will cause all kinds of problems.

When I was a kid, I loved to play sports mainly for the exhilaration of various types of physical activity, the miracle of motion of bodies, balls, wheeled vehicles, etc. Friendly competition could make it fun and a little more urgent. But organized sports were always unpleasant to me, not so much because of the competition between teams, but because of the negativeness within a team--getting benched, etc.

I would suggest that the collaboration involved in creating new things is a much better way to teach values to children. Collaboration, working with people toward a common and creative goal, being respectful of what others have to offer, these are what children need to learn to foster a better society.


lara said...

you said it.

Bingy said...

I try to explain this to people, but I can never say it as well as you do.

Felipe said...

That's a great point. It is important to distinguish the role of Government and the role of Society. All the problems start when the Government starts meddling in social issues through legislation or Supreme Court rulings. The role of Government is to keep us free from tyranny foreign and domestic and to protect our rights, again from foreign and domestic enemies.
Society on the other hand is to live by moral laws without being compelled by the Government. It is in great wisdom displayed that the Founding Fathers made sure that protections were put in place to guarantee freedom of Religion. Originally, the Government is to promote religion, since religion would create a moral foundation for society. That way, the Government doesn't have to get involved.
We are all winners when the Government stays out of our way!