There are two kinds of competitors: Those who are content with their best, and those who cannot be content unless they win; those who can celebrate the victories of others, and those who are obsessed with being celebrated by others; those who view others as friends and allies, and those who see everyone else as an obstacle or opponent.
I’m calling this blog entry COMPETITIVISM, because I see this as the root of another “ISM” that I need to address today…RACISM.
I feel compelled to address this because of the traumas that we’ve been seeing in the news about Charlottesville in the past several days, which are really just eruptions from festering wounds that have never healed from deeply troubling pathogens in American history. I’m not going to jump into the polarizing fray of political ideals, how I feel about our President, which sides are at fault for what, etc. I’m simply going to focus on addressing racism as an expression, and want to spend most of my time with the root issue. Yes, I know that “Competitivism” is not a word, but it does get the point across.
Racism is defined as “prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against those of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior” (dictionary.com). I sincerely doubt that the vast majority of racists ACUALLY BELIEVE that they’re own race is intrinsically superior and that others are inferior. Of course there are crazy fanatics, but there is simply no reasonable explanation for the belief that racial ancestry dictates superiority or worth…indeed all the facts say the opposite, that all humanity is varied and equal. The ignorance (both sincere and willful) associated with the racial bigotry of otherwise intelligent people, I believe, belies something deeper.
I see racism as a smokescreen-belief – a sham – to protect deeper, more sinister motivations: greed, selfishness, jealousy, disillusionment, covetousness, hatred. It plays itself out in many different ways in our society, including the type of terrifying behavior we are seeing rear its ugly head right now by groups like the KKK, Neo-Nazis, and other racist groups. It hasn’t been seen like this in America in several decades, but apparently it’s been simmering for a long time.
Competitivism is different from racism in that it has nothing to do with intrinsic superiority. In fact, it often arises from places of insignificance and low self-esteem; giving hope to those who need something to salve their wounds…something to stand on top of and place their hope in. But the belief that “life’s highest value is the fulfillment of one’s own desires at the expense of others” is a terribly false hope! This kind of hope only brings pain and destruction and ultimately death. In spite of the misguided religious rantings you may hear from god-less people, the way of Jesus…of authentic Christianity…is always one of humility.
“You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:42-45)
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
Jesus’ “yoke” is a metaphor for adopting his ways, values, hopes; and trusting Him with life’s results. The worldview of a competitivistic person is that the fulfillment of his/her desires is dependent upon gaining and maintaining power over others in order to be honored, served, and resourced by them. I suppose this could also be called social selfishism or me-first-ism or me-and-my-people-are-the-only-important-ones-ism. These two worldviews are mutually exclusive. People who wield twisted scripture as an instrument of hate are liars and imposters.
Competitivism breeds in quagmires of scarcity, and believes that there is simply not enough to go around. That there are too many people vying for the same resources, therefore I must somehow get in front of the others by any means possible in order to fully satisfy the desires of myself and those I care about; regardless of how it affects others. Of course, anyone with a brain and access to reliable information knows that there is plenty of food, water, and resources in this amazing world of ours to accommodate all of us; but the systems of mankind seem to be inexorably governed by tendrils of chronic greed rather than good.
I challenge myself and you to a lifestyle of giving rather than grasping. There will always be many people in this world who will worship and pursue beliefs and actions that spit in God’s face, this will not change until that final hour. But as for me and my house, I have thrown-in my whole lot, placed my whole bet, set all my hopes on Christ. I’m going to focus all of my attention and intention upon knowing & following Him in ways that will foster love and service and grace to all the people I come into contact with….regardless of how that affects me…because Jesus can be trusted when He says,
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:25-34)
When we believe this, everyone around us becomes a brother and a sister, a fellow beloved creature of the Creator.