I was just reading a headline announcing the winners of the 2022 Screen Actors Guild (SAG) awards,
and it struck me how ludicrous it is to compare movies and television shows to each other and try to
ascertain the “winner”. I’ve felt this before with other award shows, whether they be the Academy
Awards (Oscars), Grammy Awards or the Tony Awards (for stage performance and very significant
where I grew up in New York).
For me, there is deeper meaning in the incessant way we set up competitions for everything.
Competition is the cornerstone of capitalism. In some other economic systems, if we come across
$10 the enquiry becomes how to share it, or how to use it for the common good. In capitalism, the
only enquiry is who can get the $10; who can “win”.
As I thought more about this, I thought of how “winning” is so deeply ingrained in our psyches from
the time we are children. Traditional education, even preschool, is based on a system of
comparison and competition: who was the “best” at drawing, or at math, or at cleaning up. Young
children are given awards for winning at games, activities and sports. And of course we are a
culture obsessed with professional sports, where everything is about “winning”.
So who benefits from everything being a competition? Our capitalist society. As long as we
embrace the ridiculous fiction that some movies (or songs or theatre performances) can “win” over
others, we sustain the idea that winning is everything. And by inculcating this value in our children,
we grow perfect cogs for the capitalist wheel. Children grow up looking to “win” and equating
success in life with acquiring wealth and possessions. A spectacular system to sustain Telstra, and
Amazon, and Toyota. Not so great for living happy, peaceful lives where we are in the moment.
Not so great for developing humans who value the collective good over their own individual
achievement and acquisitions.
Of course, this provides awesome opportunities for parents to consciously pursue a different path
with their children. We can actively teach children they are infinitely valuable just because they are
themselves and that they are not “better” if they win, or “worse” if they lose.