Julia Gillard, when Prime Minister, was asked why politicians need to act the way they do in parliament, to which her defensive reply was that this country has been built on fiery debate, that much had been achieved as a result of the cauldron that we know to be parliament. Competition runs deep in every aspect of our society and is treasured as one of the great forces that leads to innovation, evolution, and change. But perhaps the question that should have been posed to Julia Gillard was “How incredible is it that anything has actually been achieved in parliament DESPITE the fiery debate that goes on?”
For what could be achieved if parliamentarians truly worked together? What if we stopped championing competitive debate as the bastion of truth and allowed ourselves to co-operate in unison towards the greater common purpose? Of course to do so would reveal the fact that underneath competition is the insatiable drive of the self-centred individual, who, devoid of the understanding of their own true worth, is desperate to prop up their own self-esteem at the expense of another.
Of course, competition is championed as the cornerstone of true success, and sport is its greatest monument. Yet, despite the bubble of pretence that we all hold high level athletes in, the fact is that most if not all at the top echelon of sport have truly low self-esteem. Without needing to name them, there are many recent examples of high level sports people, who once retired, have no foundation within themselves to fall back upon, once stripped of that which consumed their whole identity. Their inability to re-integrate into everyday society and their struggles with substance abuse stand as testament to the fact that competition is not character building, but rather character destroying.
Ultimately competition serves neither the victor nor loser to know themselves in essence. The loser is left either crushed in defeat, or returns more determined than ever to seek to understand their self worth as being directly related to the quality of their achievements. The winner, hooked on the temporary elation fed to them by their success – and devoid of the understanding of their own true worth – must eventually return to the struggle of finding solace in their own empty company.
This is why winners must keep on winning to fill the empty void within them, until they are eventually spat out by the system that once made them great. Alas, stripped of what made them who they were, they become but strangers in their own company. Depression often follows those left to walk the quiet streets when no one is there to remind them of their own name by bellowing it out from the grandstands above.
The sad thing is that we falsely believe that true confidence is a foundation that we need to build in our children, when in truth the foundation is already there at birth. In trying to ensure our children grow up with self-esteem, we ironically ensure the erosion of that foundation – which begins in the playground where we foster the child to value themselves by how good they are in comparison to another by the institution we know as sport.
The reason we cannot see it as parents, and coaches, is that we too have had our true foundations whittled away by such ideals as competition – ideals that are further fuelled and exemplified by the fiery debates of our parliamentarians who defend their verbal stoushes as a necessary function of progress, and by those who defend sport as one of the character building pillars of a healthy society.
In the end it is the blind leading the blind, with neither the coach, nor player, nor parliamentarian understanding that all they do under the guise of achievement serves only to whittle away the true confidence one was originally born with.
It is a testament to Serge Benhayon – a former successful tennis coach – that he was able to see through the illusion of all the higher ideals that sport seemingly offered, and furthermore walk away from its sweet allure when all he had once known was the taste of its so called success.
By Adam Warburton – Builder, former athlete, Universal Medicine Student
This blog originated as a comment inspired by the blog: From Ball Game to Race: a Not-So-Healthy Competition