I’ve always thought that people because we are social, ultimately want community. This is achieved through all sorts of activities. Every club or group is a collection of people wanting to connect. This I feel is more important to the participants than the actual activity they are engaged in which is mealy the cause and commonality of their community. Once this community is forged it seems to become tribal where the protection of the group and dynamics is important if not critical for the survival of the group. This is what generates parochial behavior where outside groups are seen as threats.
This is played out with competitions played through arbitrary lines of division between groups, clubs, schools, communities until the divisions are state against state, country against country and religion against belief. Initially it’s nothing but spirited desire to improve against another reference group but quickly develops into competition. As the stakes increase from pleasure to prestige to fame to wealth to power the desire to stomp on the competition increases and if unchecked quickly moves into behavior of belittling , contempt, disrespect and on through to violence.
Consider a friendly soccer game where the joy is to have a kick with friends for the sheer pleasure of it. Now consider the development of the game through the minor leagues to professional and onto international where to win, at any cost is of the only importance. The frustration of not achieving is expressed in negative emotions that if allowed and antagonised leads to violence on the field and in the greater tribal spectators.
Sport in the true amateur ideals of Baron de Coubertin who started the modern Olympic movement is valid but the unbalanced human nature of wanting to put your competition down is the thin end of the wedge that if allowed to run unchecked and provoked can lead to war.
Few people can compete to 100% effort for only themselves and disregard a greater success in others while being equally content with not achieving as well as others. Second can be first if it’s 100% and should be equally celebrated by all in the same way that Personal Best(PB) performances are noted. Any demeaning of any position because they are not first is to feel someone is better so therefore I’m less and to win through fair or foul is okay.
This I’m wondering is maybe to crux of so many of today’s problems where people feel disenfranchised and on the outside. This can lead to frustration and possibly violence but is differently unhealthy if we want a harmonious society.
I find it interesting that in order to train people to kill another it is necessary to dehumanise the enemy as human nature is in contradiction to the act of killing another. Therefore the reverse seems to me that if you humanise your enemy or better still develop a connection and understanding with those you currently don’t understand you will be able to care, empathise and have compassion for others to the extent that to harm them is to harm your own tribe, your own family.
On her TED wish Jehane Noujaim said that she wanted to create word peace through interaction of the peoples of the world. In achieving that we grow our family to our community to the globe and a much deeper understanding of others must come of it. If we have an appreciation for someone else’s humanity and they of ours we will for a larger and stronger community or tribe until we all feel part of the one tribe.
My hope is that through my humble attempts to ask people to open up a bit and reveal a little of themselves, of their experiences, hopes and dreams we may learn some of who we share this world with and inso find out that maybe, just maybe, there is more that connects us than separates us.