The Culture of Competitiveness

Over the past 20 years people throughout the world are giving more priority towards the attainment of material goods, behaving in a competitive and comparative manner, always evaluating themselves according to what others have. The big problem is there is only ever one winner in a competitive feud, the losers live with their frustrations of disappointment. This way people end up by being classified in two categories: winners and losers. The ones that consider themselves winners acquire a false idea of superiority with regards to the remainder and consequently become arrogant. These attitudes lead individuals to just concentrate on themselves, and not on the community, believing that the ends justify the means. As a consequence of this the natural resources also end up being overexploited in a predatory manner. Sharing and cooperating with one another are options that have become less attractive. Thus the interest of the individual prevails to the detriment of the community.

In this competitive environment conflicts and snide remarks fly about like a swarm of locusts. The overall worry is to win and mistrust is always present. This is also clearly visible in the younger generations. And in cultivating this continuous state of competition, we forget that, in this world, we are just pilgrims in the pursuit of evolution. We are part of the human race. We neither have the right to hinder the growth of our neighbor, nor disrespect him. Our earthly existence should enhance the strengthening of the spirit, which promotes the existence of the human being to its fullest.

These are the values that should be transmitted in schools. But, to the contrary, what is witnessed in the student-environment is the stimulus of competitiveness. The students are overburdened with countless amounts of homework of little practical utility that just contributes to exert strong cerebral pressure enhancing the calculative intellect, to the detriment of sensibility and intuition.

In a recent interview referring to the crisis at American schools, Bill Gates, the owner of Microsoft one of the giants of the IT industry said that “schools are obsolete”, this he said in respect to the unusually high level of ‘drop outs’. The entrepreneur defended the need to renew the commitment with education and change the way teaching is being exercised. Gates is worried about the future of the young students and, consequently, with the future of the United States. Microsoft's attitude deserves an attentive look from other leading companies. It is up to the private sector to break away from the narrow-minded thinking of one’s own profit and render an important role in the educational reality of the coming generations.

The full development of a country depends mostly on the formal and informal education of its citizens. But, unfortunately, the present educational system encourages and overvalues fragmentation, intellectualization and aggressive competition. It trains ill prepared people for a full and harmonized life with themselves and unfortunately the others are in the hands of nature. We cannot continue fragmenting and departmentalizing. This is the moment to reconnect, to amplify and develop a trans-disciplinary system. To work like this is to situate the knowledge of life enabling the use of specialized knowledge as a whole.

A special gift is of no value if it cannot be applied with a vision of full benefit. Presently we feel the need to clarify the true essence of the word education. We cannot continue thinking in terms of compulsory curriculums. The current way of life on this planet demands changes in habit and values. It demands changes in our day to day routine, in our posture before the world and a greater responsibility regarding life.

It has becomes indispensable for man to receive a more adequate preparation for life so that, strengthened with spiritual knowledge about Creation and of its laws, he shall be apt to reach a dignified existence through the result of his own work, recognizing that above the flawed laws of man act the incorruptible and unyielding laws of reciprocity, which brings back to each one, happiness or suffering, in accordance with one’s actions. Without this there can be neither self-esteem nor the hope of reaching a better world. Without this there shall be no respect and consideration to one’s neighbor. Each one will want to exercise the force that one has in order to reach one’s own objectives and chaos shall be implanted in families, the State, and around the globe.

Benedicto Ismael Camargo Dutra