There’s a whole new way for our kids to play. They learn to play together, to cooperate, to be friendly. We do not want disappointed children sent home crying because they see themselves as failures. That’s a view of themselves that evolves into low self-esteem and never leaves them throughout life. It affects them negatively and indefinitely. None of us wants that for our daughters or sons. We want our children, all children, to feel good about themselves. They’ll be better citizens, better neighbors, better individuals with fewer emotional issues to deal with. They could then create a culture more focused on cooperation and working together. It’s a healthy goal. I get it. And I think it sounds ideal. Maybe because it is.
The opposite of ideal though is real. And as harmonious as ideal sounds, it’s not reality. All my life I’ve had role models. Role models for humility, for being direct and outspoken, for being quietly efficient, for their courage, for their open mindedness, for their vision and creativity, for their calm under pressure, for their unapologetic freedom of expression, for being assertive and more. Different people — men and women — have been much appreciated as motivators and unknowing guides, helping me focus on self-improvement (and like most, I have plenty of room for it). How did they become role models? By excelling at something.
So, what’s the answer? In trying to keep an open mind, trying to see different viewpoints, I’m going to try to blend, to compromise, which is not a weakening of a firm position, but is respect for the viewpoints of others and the humility to accept that none of us has all the answers. At best, we have valuable insights. Like so many conundrums, it’s not about either/or nor about a clear answer or solution. It’s definitely not about one of those simple solutions exchanged over a cold beer or glass of wine. Usually it’s more about managing a complex situation, not solving it.
Fact: ALL improvement requires change. Change, at least meaningful productive change, requires vision. Vision comes from daydreaming, imagination and that reaches well beyond the present reality. I’m enthusiastically in support of healthy idealism. I’m also fully supportive of accepting reality as a necessary prerequisite to taking relevant action.
Remember, I’m blending here. My blend starts with YES, every child does get a trophy. Every child is recognized for something he or she has contributed — some example of character, of team play, of cooperation. Something a good coach can identify and that a child can take pride in. AND then there are also trophies for excellence that celebrate perseverance and performance in competition. For being a potential future role model.
To broaden this a bit, I think the same well-meaning folks who support the vision of free play without winners and losers, are also calling for laws of society that encourage equality for all. I’ve already said, I get it. But we’re not all equal. We’re all different in millions of ways. In intelligence, in appearance, in determination, we are different. Our laws of civilized society should be about full support for equality of opportunity but never about equality of outcomes. Whoa! Am I saying inequality is acceptable? No, no, no. Much more than that. I’m saying that in a free society, inequality is inevitable. Inequality is a natural and guaranteed outcome of free enterprise, of individual freedom. No amount of complaining, or idealism, or even legislation can change that. It’s a fact. Accept it and find what each of us can contribute.