Competitive and Cooperative?

We can be competitive and cooperative.

Hebrews 13:16, MSG

            Life isn’t fair.  Just ask the employee who is laid off from work after faithfully serving the same company for thirty-two years or the widow who loses her husband’s pension due to a Ponzi scheme.  The sooner we learn this lesson in life the better prepared we will be.

            So, are we setting our children up for failure?  The concept of cooperative athletics became popularized in the 1980’s.  All Little League players receive participation trophies.  Scores are not kept on the court.  Winners and losers are not publicly acknowledged.

            Don’t get me wrong.  I am a Kingdom-oriented person.  I look forward to the day when Jesus comes and establishes a permanent world in which peace and justice reign—a world wherein no one goes hungry or dies from cancer.

            Yet until this future reality is consummated, the world will not always treat us fairly.  So, back to my previous question:  are we setting our children up for failure by insulating them from the painful consequences of loss?  In one sense, the answer is “Yes.”  Children who grow up in an equitable world will be greatly dismayed when, as adults, they discover another world that rewards winners and passes over losers.

            On the other hand, why do we have to choose between competition and cooperation?  Why can’t children learn to win and lose graciously by honoring their opponents?  Why can’t the winners learn to share some of the spoils of their victory with the losers (like ice cream)?  In the adult world, why can’t CEO’s and shareholders who make millions of dollars each year offer some of their annual bonuses to their employees rather than cutting jobs to increase profits?

            Competition and cooperation can mutually exist together.  To the victors may go the spoils yet the spoils need not be completely excluded from the vanquished.