“We’re number 1!”
“We’re the best country in the world!”
“Come up against us and we’ll crush you!”
“Second place is the first loser!”
“Winning isn’t everything, it’s the ONLY thing.”
This is the narrative that America has been running on for the past 50 years or so. It probably started soon after the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, ending World War II. We got the idea that we were superior to others in the world; that we were the #1 country.
This idea of superiority and spirit of competitiveness has also become common between fellow Americans, to the point where now we are again a nation divided right down the middle. I have seen so many angry, hateful and competitive comments coming from people who feel that they have “won” the 2016 election. Some of those who feel that they “lost,” are also angry, though to a less venomous degree, about what has transpired. The obsession with competition has gotten so bad that now people are willing to accept anyone or anything just to be able to say that they “won” a fleeting victory.
I have some news for both sides: we ALL lost this election because we’ve lost our moral compass as a country. This election has shown that an overwhelming number of people are willing to do ANYthing to “win” — even if it means potentially throwing our future into the trash.
This intense competitive spirit has now trickled down to day to day interactions. There have been a number of cases of people being bold and outright with their racism and hatred toward others in public. There are stories of kids and adults bragging and taunting other people who they feel “lost” the election.
Some people have suggested that we should just laugh at and ignore these people, but I tend to disagree.
People ignored Hitler and the hateful propaganda his regime was spreading too. They probably thought it was all just something that would fade away with time. That was right up until the day when the first trucks rolled up to take people away from their homes.
Unfortunately, simply ignoring a problem doesn’t make it go away. There’s a quote that roughly says “evil prevails when good men/women do nothing.” This has been true in the past and it is true now.
I don’t think that we should ignore hate and ignorance when it arises in our personal lives. I think we are responsible for questioning it, boldly and unapologetically. Calmly ask the offending person questions, like:
Why do you feel it is acceptable and okay to make that kind of statement?
Where did you learn that from?
Who taught you that?
How would you feel if someone said/did that to your mother/sister/daughter/loved one?
Questions have a way of holding people accountable. They have to face the woman/man in the mirror if only for a moment. You don’t even have to respond to their response if it is very ignorant. Just look at them, listen, respectfully disagree and end the conversation. Don’t laugh or joke it away with them. And don’t ever argue with a foolish person because as they say, “then no one will know who’s who.” But if you feel that a calm discussion would be possible and have merit, keep the conversation going.
At the time of this post, Thanksgiving is less than a week away, so surely you will have a chance to practice if you have family members who think that it’s okay to bully, taunt and openly hate people. You may have sat by quietly as they spouted hate at the table where you eat before, but no more. Not this year. Hold them accountable for their hateful and ignorant comments by asking thoughtful but respectful questions:
When our family first emigrated here, do you think it was fair that people treated them the way that you’re treating ___(fill in the blank)____?
If God/Jesus were sitting here, what would God/Jesus say about the comment you just made?
Why do you feel that your way is the only acceptable way to live?
Why does it seem like you’re in competition with others who have a different race/gender/sexual preference/income/etc?
What bothers you so much about people who are different from you?
It doesn’t matter if you get through to that person — remember, this isn’t a competition. You don’t have to “win.” The point here is that you made a stance against hate and ignorance. I think this is what we need more of in America and the world at this questionable time.
I am in the process of writing a new book on the questions that we women torture ourselves with throughout our lives.
My question to you: if you could have 2 questions answered about your life (as a woman) what would those 2 questions be?
Submit your response below — your question may be featured in the book!
Thank you in advance for your thoughtful response.
From the time were young we’re taught this formula:
But in real life this formula doesn’t always ring true. In fact, life tends to throw out much more complex equations like:
(-3 ± sqrt(19))/2^ 2×2+6y÷4/z-5 = ???
You’ll frequently find people complaining about how unfair life is. Maybe you are one of these people (I know I definitely was).
“It’s not fair that I’m a good person and seem to have such bad luck.”
“It’s not fair that my friend with the bad attitude is married with kids and I’m not.”
“It’s not fair that I don’t have the job that I want.”
“It’s not fair that society values superficial things instead of what really matters.”
When we complain about what’s not fair about life, who exactly are we expecting to fix it? Some outside force? The government? A divine act from God? The scales of justice? Who do we want to come to the rescue? How can “they” put and keep things in balance?
The fact of the matter is that the world is the way that it is because of the individual people in it. We each have free will to make our own choices and make our realities. We are responsible for the condition of this world and everything in it.
There are things that we can change and things that we can’t change as individuals. As the prayer goes (The Serenity Prayer), we have to learn the difference between the two:
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
– Reinhold Niebuhr
You are responsible for your corner of the world, so the focus shouldn’t always be on what others are doing or what others are getting away with that doesn’t seem fair to you — it should be on making your corner of the world more beautiful. Make life as wonderful and fulfilling for yourself and the people you love as you can, because that’s totally in your power.
We can literally drive ourselves crazy wondering why the world isn’t fair. And yea, sometimes the way things go just don’t seem fair, but when you meditate on that simple prayer “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference” the answer seems clearer.
It’s not really our job to figure out why things aren’t always “fair” according to our own definition. It’s not our job to fix all of the imbalances in the world.
Our resources are best used when we focus on SELF-improvement first. In that, we develop the courage to change the things that we can. (And those things might just turn out to be larger than life.)
At least that’s my understanding of it.
Go be great.
Lynn Gilliard is a writer and transformational blogger. She is the author of a self-help guide entitled Survive, Live or Thrive?and a popular relationship guide entitled Let Him Chase YOU.