The Age of Excess

This is an age of excess.  Balance is either forgotten or a taboo word.  Everything has to be the “best”. This excess has slowly crept into every sphere of our life.  It is almost an impossible task to exist on a middle level when the measures of excellence have reached such extremes.  We hardly dare to take a breath to check upon our assumptions and goals mid-way.

Anyway our thinking becomes so befuddled by then that we forget what prompted the action in the first place. Competition is another name for choosing or selecting.  It is presented as a means for achieving excellence.  Only if you are challenged can you be provoked to become better.  It is a contest between individuals, groups, nations, animals, etc. for territory, or allocation of resources.  It arises whenever two or more parties strive for a goal which cannot be shared.  It occurs naturally between living organisms which co-exist in the same environment.

It can have both beneficial and detrimental effects.  Many evolutionary biologists view interspecies and intra-species competition as the driving force of adaptation, and ultimately of evolution.  It serves as a mechanism for determining the best-suited group. On the negative side, it can cause injury to the organisms involved.  Human competition can be expensive.  It can lead to the compromising of ethical standards in order to gain an advantage.  It often leads to tensions and may sometimes erupt like volcano in human mind.

A competitive world necessarily has aggression built into it.  Success is possible only by side lining others.  Everything exists or can exist only in the dyad of opposites: best or worst; positive or negative; developed or underdeveloped etc.  Competition has grown disproportionately judgmental and seriously undermined the self-respect of the so called losers of the race, in other words, the other half.

If this is the dominant world view which is shaping our childrens’ lives, what can be done to counter it, if one does not subscribe to it?  All we may desire for our children may be a happy and secure life.  But is it possible with in the above frame work?

According to the World Health Organization, India has one of the highest suicide rates worldwide.  The pressure to do well in school has one of the highest suicide rates in the world.  In several cases, students commit suicide after failing examinations (or) not getting admission in their choice of course or colleges.  It is pertinent that as major stakeholders in the system of education, we are able to provide our children with an environment that encourage growth and learning instead of the killer instinct the spirit of competition seems to inspire.  This study is an attempt to explore how adolescents view Competition in their lives and its effect on them.

(This is an excerpt of the research study conducted by P Hemlata, a teacher at Andhra Education Society on “The Role of Competition among Adolescents“.)

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