The Versus Mentality

There is such a fantasy that we should exist in a society that presents with an either one, or the other. It has roots in religious beliefs that one act means choosing evil over choosing good. Seldom is such a choice actually presented to us.

Indeed, competition in itself can be a very healthy practice, as stated in this blog post:

Healthy competition requires courage. Doing your best at something you care about, with others watching, is “practicing being vulnerable in things that matter,” which is my definition of courage. Another definition of courage could be “being afraid and doing something anyway.” If you’re not afraid of losing, it doesn’t take courage. I applied for a Stegner Fellowship, which is the only writing program or fellowship I have ever applied for, and I was not accepted (then again, neither was Michael Chabon). Up until then, the reason I hadn’t ever been awarded any fellowships was because I hadn’t applied for any. The moment I got the rejection notice, I congratulated myself—I had finally admitted I really would like some “mainstream” external validation that my writing mattered, and that was a victory for me. I was practicing putting my dreams out there. I’d done my best and it wasn’t good enough and that was fine. Without the competition, I would not have been motivated to carefully edit the beginning of my unpublished novel.

Healthy competition helps us get to know ourselves better, and also the communities we live in. Even in the case of losers of competitions, the one who lost actually may become the more successful person than the actual winner. This is what happened with American Idol winner Kris Allen, and second-runner up, Adam Lambert. Kris Allen, actually, even came out saying that he thought “Adam deserved it just as much as I did. He was the most consistent person all year, and seriously, one of the most gifted performers I’ve ever met. We became great friends, and we told each other that day, ‘You deserve it’… And so, I think it could have gone either way. America couldn’t have gotten it wrong.”

The reality is that life doesn’t present us with an either, or another. It presents us with a multiple answer on any given decision. There is no one single right answer, but a myriad of several possible decisions to made in the course of life. I have found that viewing it in such a limited (one or the other) manner is severely divisive, and not a presented reality – even in politics where there can be multiple candidates for both major political parties.


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