Is there such a thing as healthy competition?
In order to answer this question we need to understand why and how competition started.
Does anybody mind if I take a few extra breaths of air?………………….Why not?
Air is abundant. Competition was an evolutionary requirement for humans based on the fact that there was not enough to go around (scarcity). Thomas Malthus and Charles Darwin believed that this was part of humanities “survival of the fittest”. If humanity had really been behind this theory then doctors, hospitals, medicines and charities would not have been required.
This scarcity paradigm was true for a great deal of time. Buckminster Fuller believed we broke through the scarcity paradigm in-between 1970 and 1990.
If there is no longer scarcity, is competition required?
If the population is always increasing, how is it possible to move from scarcity to abundance?
From a scientific perspective there is always the same amount of elements (think periodic table) on planet earth. Earth is mostly what they call a “closed system” or a “circular economy”. Nothing really ever decreases or increases. The world has the same elements today as it did 10,000 years ago.
What has really changed over history is human’s ability to transform these elements into technology that support abundance.
This “know how”, I believe is the true wealth of the planet.
If this is our true wealth then we need to look ways of sharing this wealth. Competition does not support sharing. Competition suggests that there is scarcity and supports a scarcity mindset.
History has already proven that the “pie” is not a fixed size. Our “know how” changes the size of the pie even in the face of rapid population growth.
We like to look at the world as one big house. We have a deal of chores that need to be done. If this was your home would you get all your kids to compete with each other or would you get them all to work together? Would you want them to share the best way of getting things done with their siblings or would you like them to keep their “know how” to themselves?
Buckminster Fuller identified and showed us that the world is going through a process called ephemeralization. This is the process of “doing more and more, with less and less”. He also created the anti-logical statement “sharing is having more”.
If you agree that ephemeralization is happening then sharing of our “know how” will create “more” as it rapidly supports the doing more with less.
It is a common misconception that competition creates innovation. Thinking and doing creates innovation, not competition. The question is does competition create optimal thinking and doing? Competition is an extrinsic motivator. People will only do so much for extrinsic reasons; they will do anything and everything for intrinsic reasons.
If there were a sliding scale between competition and cooperation we would see that humanity is very close (maybe 95%) to the cooperation end of the scale. If you think of all that is required for you to have your breakfast, you will see that 99.999% of the work is performed by others (Your toaster, breakfast cereal, electricity, light bulbs etc.) If you were to try and make your $50 Kmart toaster from scratch, without cooperation, it would be your life’s work and I doubt it would be up to scratch.
Pushing that slider that last 5% is going to have a bigger impact on humanity and the planet than the previous 95%. Why is this? This is because the previous 95% occurred somewhat unconsciously and the last 5% is going to require conscious action. A holistic view of the world and the issues we face will be required by the global citizenry. Removal of sovereign fences, country divisions, transformation of educational theory and economics are all part of this final 5%. It is also going to require not only an acceptance of cultural and religious difference but a deep sense of gratitude for all diversity (both human and non-human).
It seems to us that competition is no longer the healthy option for our abundant world. When Buckminster Fuller showed us that “sharing is having more” he saw the earth as a whole with no boundaries and no divisions. A single cooperative tribe of people that he called “earthians”.