Sunday, November 28, 2010

Competition

I was at a park one day and noticed a game of softball being played. I walked over closer to the athletes and noticed that some of them were in wheelchairs. They were children - special-needs children. I noticed that the coaches were cheering each play enthusiastically. Some kids had to swing a dozen times before connecting with the ball. Some stumbled their way from base to base. Others needed to be wheeled by a loving parent. As the game drew to a close, I realized that it wasn't very clear which team, if any, had won the game. I'm pretty sure that each player felt that he or she had won, while eating the post-game treats.

I thought about Lance Armstrong. I remember that he won seven successive Tour-de-France championships. I remembered that I like to ride my bicycle. I realized, also, that I don't like to ride my bicycle as much as Lance likes to ride his. I wondered (only momentarily) if I would have the drive and passion to ride a bicycle as vigorously as Lance does. . . . . . . . . Naahh!

I thought about all those other riders - hundreds of them - over a seven(-plus)-year stretch. I realized that most of them probably HATE Lance Armstrong (while a few sincerely respect him). The French anti-doping organization hates him too - and tried (unsuccessfully) to take away his trophies.

I thought about the traffic on the I-10 freeway when I drive home from work during rush-hour. I realized that the evening commute is a race. Some of these motorists hate the other ones. Every one wants to get home soon. The other motorists are in my way. I am competing with them for speed and asphalt. In some parts of the world, millions are competing just for the next meal.

I wondered if all of life was like that - a competition. I remembered our miserable U.S. economy and the declining dollar. I thought about the millions of unemployed people who are all competing for the same handful of job openings. I thought about Obama and his argument that we should tax rich people more, and how the Democrats and Republicans are competing over how those public dollars will be spent. I realized that, when God put us on this planet, He knew we would all be competing.

The famous daytime TV life coach, Dr. Phil (McGraw) talks about a phenomenon called "leveling". This occurs after a person achieves success in a certain aspect of life - money, adulation, physical fitness, popularity, offspring, etc. Often, a close friend or family member will express thinly-veiled resentment and try to trivialize the person's success - or even endeavor to take it away from him or her. This is human nature - dragging another person back down to one's own "level". It is natural to feel disappointment when another person achieves a desirable thing when we ourselves could not.

Are we competing to get to heaven? If we succeed in emulating God and building a family according to His divine model, does there have to be a "runner-up?". Does one guy win the race at the expense of all the begrudging losers who look on in disappointment and resentment? Will there be too few good women left in the world?

I watch the progress of the Canadian polygamy reference case (S.293) and wonder if certain men just don't want other men to be successful polygamists and to walk in our Father's footsteps. That idiot A.G., Craig Jones, seems to be arguing that all kinds of orgiastic promiscuity constitute healthy, "good" polygamy, and that the law should carefully, "surgically" protect them. He goes on to argue that the men who build up righteous plural families (according to the doctrines and precepts of the holy scriptures) are "bad" polygamists and must be prosecuted. Perhaps Jones (in concert with others) sees all this as a competition. He knows he is not cut out to win the race, so he is already trying to puncture Lance Armstrong's tires - to keep him from winning, too (like a "re-distribution" of wealth and success).

Does he not realize that God loves him, too? Does he not understand that, in the divine system of progress, all of God's children can win? Not everyone can win the Tour de France, and, in truth, only a few people really want to. They have other, even more rewarding things to do with their lives. Does he forget that, just because he cannot and will not enter the New and Everlasting Covenant, he does not need to persecute those who do enter it? Does he not realize that, despite his handicaps and natural disabilities, his Heavenly Father still loves him and works every day to help him to magnify his potential and receive rich blessings in the hereafter? Or, is he a pouty, sulky, Lost Boy who is convinced that this is a universe of austerity, where there will never be "enough to go round"?

I think you understand the several points I am trying to make, the most important of which, perhaps, is that the widespread resentment of polygamists, the desire to curtail them and eradicate them seems to be a function of jealousy, of leveling, of competition. I know a man who has four wives. He is a good man. His monogamous friends naturally look up to him. I know they are quietly jealous, but they don't want to take his wives away from him. Then again, I know some guys who don't really even want ONE wife. So, to each his own - live and let live. Some people want to excel in the bike-riding world. Some want to excel in the family-building realm. It is no more realistic to outlaw polygamy than it is to outlaw competitive sports (despite the fact that, in both, there will inevitably be some who fall down).

Perhaps we would be better off looking at the race for eternal rewards as a "team" sport rather than as an individual one. Is that not how the Divine Champion did it? Shall we not cheer that He vanquished death and hell?

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