Two best friends are torn apart. A man meticulously plots revenge on the person who got the job he was dying for. A nation is full of rage and fear because another country beat them in the race to walk on the moon. Sadly, all of these situations were caused by one thing, competition. In Alfie Kohns essay, Competition Is Destructive, he describes competition as having a toxic effect on our relationships(11). Although competition has many positive effects in this world, when talking specifically about relationships, whether it be between best friends, two strangers, or even entire nations, it fuels negative feelings and attitudes that transform people into monsters.
Close relationships often have their ups and downs. When one spends enough time with a person it is inevitable that they will have an argument. Best friends, for example, share everything with each other. They laugh together, cry together and trust one another completely. Yet throw a boy that they are both interested in into the picture and they are lying and backstabbing their way into his arms. Or perhaps they are both dying to play Juliet. Suddenly they view each other as enemies who will stop at nothing for the part. One might spread rumors about the other or sabotage her audition. Even something as innocent as grades can turn into a knockdown, drag-out, fight to the finish. They resort to cheating, or anything that will give them a leg up from the other. These crazy situations are just a few of the many examples that show how competition can create feelings of resentment, bitterness and even hatred between people who at one point were inseparable.
Competition between good friends is not the only instance in which negative feelings can occur. Surprisingly, the exact same feelings of resentment and hostility can happen between two perfect strangers. With no valid reason, children and adults alike can work up an enormous grudge against a person that they have never spoken to, or possibly never even seen. Take for instance a boy on a high school football team. Off the field he is a respectable student who is always considerate of others. Yet the second he steps on that field he transforms into a monster who is out to get the other team, to show them whos boss. He has never met these people before and has no reason to feel such anger towards them other than the fact that they are standing in the way of his team winning the game.
Another example of perfect strangers having contempt for one another is at a job interview. A person walks into the waiting room, sees the other perspectives and automatically begins to build his case against these people. He has not met a single person in the room and already has a negative list beginning to form. It is situations such as these that condition people to pre-judge and make assumptions before a conversation even takes place. What is worse is that these people are not children or even teenagers, but full-grown adults. Perhaps competition would not be such a concern if it was something a person grew out of over time, but if anything the person becomes more conniving and vicious.
For instance, something that happens almost daily in a grown females life: two women pass each other on the street and stare. To them the other is seen not as a person, but as an object of competition. Something they will have to be better than in order to get the guy, or receive the promotion, or be regarded as beautiful- whatever the case may be. Not only does this generate negative feelings about the other woman, but the woman herself feels she is not good enough to compete and therefore begins to form negative feelings about her own image.
One faces competition between people every day. If a person is not careful, it can easily consume a persons mind and life. The danger of an individual being consumed with competition, is not so much what he might do, but rather the fact that it could eventually lead to an entire nation being consumed with competition. And when the competition occurs between two nations instead of two people, the consequences can be much more disastrous and even lead to wars. For example, when the United States was competing with Russia to be the first nation to walk on the moon. Although no war started from it, tensions between the two were very high for a very long time. Another instance is the Gulf War. It started just because Iraq wanted to be considered more powerful by owning more oil. It was threatened by Kuwaits large supply and decided to attack.
People today forget what a strong hold competition has on our world. Not only can it influence decisions and change personalities of our best friends, but it can cause entire nations to completely destroy other entire nations and when focused on the effects it has on relationships, basically bring the worst out in people. Whether it be between total strangers or the closest of friends; no matter what kind of relationship, competition fuels the fires of revenge and jealousy. Hopefully, someday people will learn to recognize when competition is getting the best of them, take control of their lives and extinguish the negative ideas before they do any damage. Realizing that ones feelings are not rational is the key to prevent competition from getting the best of a person.