I’m a runner. Well, if we’re being honest, we’ll just say I’m a jogger. I don’t run fast, I run long. I used to be fast-er, but never fast enough to keep up with the “real” athletes. Nevertheless, my dining room is full of medals and trophies that would easily convince you otherwise.
Sometimes I take the kids to the kids’ runs. They’ve all got piles of ribbons and medals, too. You’d think we were Olympians by the looks of our combined stockpile. But the truth is that I’m skeptically hoping to run a 4:30 marathon in the spring and my kids, at the ages of 3, 5, and 7, are already bored of running “races.”
The problem is not that we haven’t been encouraged and pep talked enough. It’s that we’ve been praised and pitied far too much. The lack of freedom to fail in our society is ubiquitous. There’s just no dignity in winning when you simply cannot lose.
No one can fail. Every child gets a winner ribbon. Every adult gets a completion medal. Every school child is told that they are especially gifted while the teachers are made to teach down to the lowest common denominator in the class. We are severely plagued by the fully accepted, ever-achievable status quo and the worship of it has created nothing less than a sleepy complacency in those whose raw potential has never even been acknowledged. No one ever loses. Then again, no one ever really wins, either.
Why strive when you’re not allowed to be better than the careless underachiever who’s going to end up with the same props you are? Yeah, we have become a loser-less society. As a result, we’ve also become a winner-less one. Why? Because telling someone they cannot win often inspires them to strive hard to prove themselves. Telling someone they cannot lose creates apathy and robs them of the desire to compete.