“The forest not only hides man’s enemies but it’s full of man’s medicine, healing power and food.” – African proverb
We live in an era when knowledge abounds, with a high degree of individual liberty that can express itself in any form and in an environment that is relatively safer than the world has ever experienced. All things being equal, life is good – for we find ourselves being handed a path and the power to make life meaningful for ourselves.
Although it has never explicitly been said to us that we need to live a full life, we all feel obliged to. Every time we are asked about how well we are doing, we know instinctively that we should be having the best of life no matter the state we find ourselves in. Even though it is a no-pressure question, it is one that makes us want to be more and desire to have more if possible.
But being obliged is only sufficient if it will lead us to have fuller lives, to be the best of ourselves, and to be of essence to our communities and all those who interact with us. Individually, we must become like the flower – adorning our environment with beauty and fragrance that puts admiration on the faces of others.
Together, we must act like the ants – outputting a synergy of solutions and revolutions. Without this noble aspiration, the drive to have a full life can modify us into becoming competitive freaks who strive to beat life at its own game – which is like trying to do the impossible. Sadly, that is the path many among us find ourselves treading.
In our efforts to fit our ideas and ideals into the existential and ensure that everything makes as much sense as possible, we are racing against each other to become the first or the best of the lot.
What is the point of getting to the finish-line when there is nobody there to cheer you? Instead of becoming the best of ourselves we have taken the backward road that pits us against each other, with a farcical belief that being first makes one superior.
We compete as if we are all came from the same production batch, and that the world is watching how well we perform. Take our politics for instance: competition has divided us left versus right. The result is that neither the left or the right has all the solutions.
They both have a bit of it. We would be better off if they could synergise their solutions. But that will not happen because we are so fixated on keeping them apart – and they keeping us from each other.
It is sad, but many of us go about life with the objectionable notion that becoming the first among equals makes one better or that it can lead to a fulfilling life. Thus, we have unconsciously become competitive beings without having thought-through our thoughts as to the importance of coming out on top of the pack or becoming the best at doing something.
Interestingly, because the trends and fads of the day provide the criteria for deciding how to make sense of everything, many of us see nothing wrong with competition. After all, that is the order of the day.
It is understandable for every potter to desire admirers – but when all potters are making pots of the same shape and size, the world no longer admires pots.
It barely even notices the pot’s existence, for familiarity numbs the senses – pushing the pot into the shadow in order to focus on novelties. We might not readily accept it, but competing against each other make us miserable and aimless in a life filled with all kinds of goodness.
Our eyes on the prize – instead of enjoying the moments of living – narrows our worldview, causing us to miss out on all the truth, all the beauty and a greater chunk of the goodness.
We are, of course, so much more expansive than the prize competition is conning us to fixate our eyes on. We are more than what we think, for life is a moving host of metaphors which cannot be compartmentalised.
Thus, we must seek to appreciate the diversity others bring to the table. Competing make us hide certain parts of ourselves whose development can make us better individuals. Our struggle to present the best part of ourselves in a competition pushes us to become hypocrites without realising it.
This has to stop if we are to become the best of ourselves. We must learn to talk about our weaknesses so that others who are stronger in those areas can help lift us up, while we do the same for those who have a weakness in our strengths.
We cannot be helping each other when we are competing. The rules forbid it. That is why we have to learn to do away with competition altogether. We must love instead of being politically correct, or religiously selective. We must learn to universalise love so that we can reach out to one another and allow others to reach out to us.
It is love that can perfect us and make us who we really are. So, let us truly learn to love. Everything that will make us better depends on unlearning most of what we have learned – not because they are evil, but because life has evolved and we need to walk abreast with it. But we need to do so with our heads high, not crouching by the wayside in fear.
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