This is another post based on the book “Yin/Yang and American Culture: The Paradox”. This one will be about our obsession with winning and competition.

2014-05-01_10-26-21No doubt competition has produced for the United States some of the best professionals, the best products, and the best business practices in the world. Nevertheless, there is a downside to Americans’ emphasis on winning at any cost. The pressure to win can be overwhelming in America, where only winners are cheered and remembered and the winner takes all, including multimillion-dollar advertising contracts. Tonya Harding, the figure skater who arranged to have her Olympic competitor, Nancy Kerrigan, injured, is an extreme example of the pressure to win…

The overemphasis on competition also contributes to a hostile workplace. Employees constantly compete against their peers and lose sleep over who gets credit for a new sales plan or for having the best ideas; this discourages teamwork and strains human relations. At school, cheating has become a serious concern when even the top students do it regularly.

Asians believe that it is neither necessary nor beneficial to be obsessed with winning. Although they set goals for surpassing their previous achievements and emphasize doing their personal best, when it comes to competing with others, Asians choose their battles carefully. They consider the cost of winning, not materially but emotionally and socially. In human relations, many Asians believe that it is better to promote peace and harmony than to win at any cost. It is dangerous to think that if one is not a winner, one must be a loser. Some may look like losers at first, but they may turn out to be winners in the long run. As Lao Tzu said in Tao Te Ching, “In natural law, some lose and yet profit along the way. Some profit and yet lose along their way.”

Kim, Eun Y. (2001-07-05). Yin and Yang of American Culture: A Paradox (Kindle Locations 656-668). Intercultural Press Inc. Kindle Edition.

This is one of those areas where Yin wins out for me. I think we Americans are just too obsessed with winning. I am a competitive person but it is introverted rather than pointed at defeating others.  I don’t see the point in making everyone else losers so I can be a winner.

Our fanaticism with sports in this country epitomizes our obsession with winning. It is all about defeating the other team. I was never much of a team player in my early years and for the last 25 years or so I have not watched any sporting event other than in passing. Vince Lombardi’s famous quote “Winning isn’t everything, it is the only thing” turns me off. I just don’t see the point in sports.

I spent the first 25 years of my work life in the Midwest. It was not until I spent the last five years in the East Coast (NY/NJ) that I was really faced with the overemphasis of competition which inevitably creates a hostile work environment. The backstabbing and emphasis for getting the credit, whether deserved or not, totally turned me off! I left that environment as soon as possible after becoming fully pension eligible.

Defeating the other guy has never been very important to me but I do strive to get better at what I do everyday. I sometimes set outrageous goals for myself in order to insure that I keep progressing in both my personal and spiritual life. Helping to promote peace is one of my primary focuses in life. We don’t need to hate or even fear others simply because they are different from us.  To me winning is only winning when others benefit as well as ourselves.  I just don’t buy into the idea that if you are not a winner then you are a loser….

 

Growing Up…

June 26, 2014

HighSchoolAs youth we all want to grow up or at least grow as fast as we can.  We desperately want to get there. We grab as many opportunities as we can.  But growing up means we have to leave some people behind. Sometimes we make the choice not to grow up for that reason. We just don’t want to end up alone.

Some people can’t seem to leave their high school years. They simply don’t want to leave all those cherished friends behind in order to venture out into the vast unknown. For some of us that happens when we graduate from college.  We are expected to use all our learned knowledge to take our place in the world but we can’t seem to leave the college lifestyle behind. I think that is especially true for those who were members of sororities and fraternities.

I have known some friends in both of those states. One was a jock in high school. He did leave to get a college education but then went back to be a coach of the high school team he once belonged to. He spent 30+ years beyond high school in various capacities in the school he graduated from years before.

A couple of other friends, like myself are graduates of Purdue University. They went on to jobs in the private sector but for their entire lives remained loyal booster of the various sports programs. They were season ticket holders for multiple sports and proud alumni members for decades. When they retired they moved back to be close to the college campus.

I for the most part took a different tract in life. When new doors opened in my life I went through them and pretty much left the old life to my memories. I did go to my forty-fifth high school reunion a few years back but really didn’t have much memories or things to talk about with my classmates. Part of the reason for that is due to my deafness. When my old classmates learned that I am now deaf they for the most part avoided any attempt at a conversation. That made the event less than pleasurable for me. I readily admit that a big part of the responsibility for that lack of communications was self-inflicted. I am having serious doubts about attending the fiftieth reunion.

Now that I have been retired for fourteen plus years my work life is also somewhat of just a memory to me. The hurts and accomplishments are things of the past. I try to live my life in the here and now instead of spending much time looking backwards.  Just another aspect of my personality I guess. I don’t burn bridges but I don’t often travel back on ones I have already crossed. Those times are better left to memories as far as I am concerned….

 

Despite a wide coalition of business, labor, religious groups, farmers and others pushing for an immigration overhaul, many individual Republican House members who represent largely white districts have been unmoved.

SOURCE: Republican leaders to block US immigration measure – Yahoo News.

After so many years of a stalemated government there are so many things that need changes. We are stuck in the 20th century practices due to a small number of our congressional representative being frozen with the fear of change? There are just too many of us old white folks who are trying to hold back the tide of change when in comes to the demographics of our country. There are too many arthritic fingers stuck in the holes of the dam trying to turn back the inevitable.

I for one believe that our increased diversity as a nation is a good thing. Our country has always been defined as a nation of immigrants. That is what makes us unique in the world.

Another topic that needs some severe change is our tax system. It needs a complete overhaul in order to address the ever-increasing inequity of opportunity in this country. Until that is done the 1% will continue to gobble up what once went to others as their rightful portion of economic gains they help generate. Since the Reagan years too much of the tax code has been targeted at allowing the most wealthy among us to pay less and less taxes. The faulty idea was that if we gave the ultra-rich more money they would invest it and create new jobs.  In reality what has happened is that they park that extra wealth in off-shore accounts and then get into a bragging contest with others as to how much they have accumulated. One aspect of change that needs to be addressed immediately is how we fund our government.

Surprisingly I just might sound like some of my conservative friends with the remainder of this post.  It is just a matter of degree I suppose. Many of them see things in black/white where I see shades of grey.

Change is also needed at the other end of the economic spectrum. There are too many among us who don’t contribute at all to paying for our country’s expenses. Everyone should have some degree of ownership of our country.  I believe that everyone who earns a wage, or for that matter any income, should contribute to the tax base that keeps our country running.  And yes, there are too many who are gaming the system at both ends of the spectrum and they should be brought to task.

It does my heart good to see our government go after the Swiss banks who are helping the rich avoid paying their fair share. As the bible says to whom much is given much is expected. To shirk that responsibility is loathsome. Our government needs to go after these tax dodgers with an increased sense of seriousness.

There are too many people who are living off government doles who could easily join the rest of us as tax paying citizens. They fake back injuries to get on social security disability. They don’t really look for a job but instead collect unemployment. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not labeling everyone in these programs as gamers anymore than I am saying that all affluent people hide money from taxes.  We need to take a serious look at how these programs are administered in order to make sure that those who are truly in need get what they need but not those who are freeloading.

Those who are holding up these necessary changes due to their stiffing fear need to step aside and let us get that work done… The sooner the better…

Requirements….

June 24, 2014

2014-06-06_09-54-41I wonder how many people know the requirements to be a member of the U.S. congress? I must admit that I didn’t until I looked them up for this post.  As usual here is what Wikipedia says about this topic.

U.S. House

Qualifications: Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution sets three qualifications for representatives. Each representative must:

(1) be at least twenty-five years old

2) have been a citizen of the United States for the past seven years

(3) be (at the time of the election) an inhabitant of the state they represent.

Members are not required to live in the district they represent, but they traditionally do.

U.S. Senate

Qualifications: Article I, Section 3 of the Constitution sets three qualifications for senators:

1) they must be at least 30 years old

2) they must have been citizens of the United States for at least the past nine years

3) they must be inhabitants of the states they seek to represent at the time of their election

There only seems to be one thing that disqualifies a person from office and that is spelled out in the fourteenth Amendment and says a federal or state officer who takes the requisite oath to support the Constitution, but later engages in rebellion or aids the enemies of the United States, is disqualified from becoming a representative. This post–Civil War provision was intended to prevent those who sided with the Confederacy from serving…

There are more requirements to get your driver’s license than there is to be in congress.. So it seems that almost anyone beyond their teen years can be chosen as a representative. That in itself might explain why that institution is so dysfunctional.  I wonder how that body would change if we set up a few more qualifications?

There are 230 lawyers out of the total of 535 representatives in congress. They make up 43% of the total office holders. That kind of explains much of the mentality of this institution. It explains why they want to constantly litigate everything and why winning is the only thing important.

Wouldn’t it be interesting to see what would happen if we made being a lawyer a disqualification for membership. Maybe people there would start talking to each other instead of filing briefs to argue over. Wouldn’t it be interesting to try this noble experiment???

OK, now don’t start flaming me too quickly as this post is mostly in jest. But isn’t there an ounce of truth to it??