7. Competition


Listen here:

Hey everyone today is Monday, October 26th, 2020. This week will end with Halloween, or Story Book Costumed Character Day, or nothing, who knows this year. Year book cover submissions close tomorrow, Oct. 27th and the theme is “piecing it together”. Spirit week starts today! Wear your spirit gear for when you don’t turn on your camera in class! This Wednesday at 1:45 is Kahoot. Join us! It’ll be a real Kahoot! Veterans Day assembly is coming up on November 4th, the day after the election. Join your homeroom for the assembly. 


It’s Disability Awareness month. It’s a time to reflect on access and representation and rights and responsibilities and on that note, we are also going to finish up our month of taking a Social Emotional Learning approach to thinking about citizenship. 


Here’s a thing that we like to protect in our nation, it’s called competition. We like competition, we participate in competition. You can see this clearly in the things we pay for, sports like football, baseball, basketball, soccer, and hockey generate huge amounts of money from people willing to pay to watch. 


We also like competition in business. For example, do you know how to find a Wendy’s? Look across the street from McDonalds. Don’t like the iPhone? Get an Android. Don’t like Adidas? There’s Nike, Under Armor, or whatever off brand it is Mr. Manzo is wearing. He’s so “against it all”. 


Competition can also be found in nature. Animals and plants compete for resources. And if you want to see a great example of that in the pacific northwest, look no further than the invasive rubus procerus commonly known as Himalaya Blackberry. This rambling perennial evergreen chokes out nearly everything it encounters. Plant competition is home to a shocking level of slow-motion violence.


Could you imagine if the sports talk podcast format was taken over into garden talk podcasts? It’d be something like this:

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Are you telling me that Balkan Catch fly should NOT be on the Noxious Weed List? 

No, you never listen, I’m saying, that it’s bad but it’s no Hawkweed Oxtongue. 


Okay but for real, let’s consider sports. Sports is a really great way to practice interacting with competition. Healthy competition is exactly what it sounds like. Healthy. Having a space to compete in a way that is fair for the people competing is a great way to practice recognizing and experiencing and managing the emotion information that can be created with competition. 

Sports gives us a great way to feel out competition. Either when we are competing on our own teams or when we are cheering for a team or when we are just chopping it up together.  Here’s an example:

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The reason we want to visit this topic right now is that, in case you don’t know, there is a rather large competition going on in our country right now and it’s not the world series, although, that is going on, but what we’re talking about is the election.


One week and one day from now the people of the united states will choose the next president to lead us. This is always a big competition, and this year is no different. Many people are taking sides and many people will experience big time feelings after the votes are all counted. 


No matter what the outcome will be, some people will be experiencing high pleasantness and some people will be experiencing low pleasantness. Both sides may be experiencing high energy. The question is, what will they do about it? 


It’s a real good question that kids should be asking adults right now, after all, they are the ones that will model how to handle both victory and defeat. So, what will it be? Will we see gracious concession from the person who receives the least number of votes? Will we see grace and understanding from the person who receives the greater number of votes? 


What will happen for the fans of the person who loses? They will likely experience unpleasant emotion information. What will they do with that? Will they say it was unfair? Will they call the winners cheaters. Will the winners call the other side losers and rub it in?


The thing that makes the election different then sports is that when it’s over, the president is responsible for serving all the people, even the ones who didn’t vote for him. That’s not something you see in sports regularly. 


Now that doesn’t mean that the fans of the person who receives the least number of votes are suddenly fans of the person who does. In fact, they are still likely to be strong fans of their candidate. But their job is to still stay invested in our country because again, the president serves all the people, not just the ones who liked him. 


This is what leadership, after competition looks like. It’s recognizing that even though we may compete with different ideas about our nation, we are still a nation. That is, we are still a community. Different beliefs and different ways to achieve the same goals can be healthy. They do not have to divide us like they do. 


Using self and social awareness you can try to incorporate one very big lesson from sports. It’s a lesson from soccer maybe or maybe basketball or whatever and it goes like this, “Play the ball, not the man.” If you play the man, you’re going to foul up. And sorry for the gender preference on the saying, but we’re keeping it aligned to the two old white guys running for president. 


What that means is you recognize that what is in competition are ideas and actions, not people. And this is hard to do because focusing on people is easier. But it’s not people that are bad, it’s ideas. Ideas are the bad things. That is, not your ideas. Your ideas are good. It’s other people's ideas that are bad. It’s not other people. 


Right, you put your ideas into the arena, they put their ideas into the arena, and you focus on those ideas. You believe yours are good, they believe theirs are good, that’s the competition. The ideas are the ball. You focus on the ideas not the person behind the ideas.


This is easier said than done, which is why you can practice by watching sports. When you cheer for you team you get to practice symbolic ego death. Your team puts it all out there and they win, so you win. You wish for victory; you cheer for victory. You can also recognize if your emotion information is asking you to focus on your own possible ego death. That would be when you start to feel that there is something cosmic on the line. Something bigger than what you’re watching.


When you recognize this pattern, don’t do anything. Just recognize it. Ask yourself what you are thinking. Ask yourself how you are feeling in your body. Ask yourself how you would like to express yourself. Ask yourself how you can express yourself. That will help build self awareness skills in the context of competition. 


Ask yourself how you can best support your group or groups during this competition. See if you can recognize a way to support your group. When the competition is over, see how your group is feeling, see how the other group or groups are feeling. See if there something you can do that allows all the groups to still get their needs met. Not easy, but also not impossible. 


Okay, that's about it for today. Have a very safe and fun Halloween, if that is something you are going to be doing this weekend. Join ASB and visit the ASB Schoology page for more info on all the happenings in the school. 


When we come back together we will be starting the new monthly theme of identity. Identity is deeply connected to so many things we do and it will be deeply connected to us all after the election. Until next Monday, may your thoughts and feelings be with you. And good night Fabio, where ever you are. 

Postscript

Have you joined the ASB Schoology page yet? Why not? Too much going on? Yeah, I feel you on this. It’s like there’s more life with your life. But, if you want a remote learning social break, join the ASB group. Maybe that will be an outlet that gives you some connection.  Try it!

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