Monday, 16 June 2014

Less competition, more compassion

The annual sports meet that is conducted in our apartment enlightens me every year. My son comes up with a gem of a philosophy each year that sets me thinking.

Last year, the competition was very intense and adults had a few events which saw a huge turnout. Surprisingly the adult’s events were marred by fights and unsportsmanlike behaviour. Off-field tussles began when I quit the scene and came home. On seeing me back home early, my son was surprised.

He walked up to me and asked me (in the most innocent tone) why I was upset. I told him that people were not fighting it fair and it was more a street fight than a sporting event.

In the same innocent tone he told me this:
“Amma, neither seek, nor avoid. Just take what comes your way.”

I looked up at him not knowing how to react. Even if he had heard this from someone, I wondered, how he managed to tell it to me at the right moment. I planted a kiss on his cheeks and went back to the ground. I quietly waited for the fight to get over and began playing my game again.

This year, again, I saw another aspect to his character. His relay team was short by one member. The team was hoping that one of the boys would join them shortly, but he was away with his parents. I went up to him and asked him what he was planning to do.

He said that he would just locate someone as a substitute. I was a bit apprehensive as he is all of 12 years and the situation might warrant their disqualification. He sure spotted a boy who had wanted to be a part of their team, but was slower than the boy who did not show up.

My son walked up to him and asked him if he would like to compete with one of the relay team members. The boy agreed. He made the boy race against the slowest of them. This ensured that the boy won the race. My son told him that since he had won the race, he could be a part of the relay team. Then the foursome ran the race finishing second! I was amazed at his negotiation skills!

When he came back, I asked him what they did to end with a podium finish. My son and the other fast runner of his team, decided to make the slow runners run between them.

I simply asked him why they did such a thing, curious to know the logic their young brains had worked out.

“Amma, my teacher had told me that stronger people must protect the weaker ones. So the two of us let the weaker runners run in-between, so that we could protect them!”

I am not sure if their logic was right or wrong. I was amazed at the fact that children have a logic when they do things. If only, as adults we compete less with each other and think with compassion, the world would definitely be a better place to live in!

The girls’ team did not have enough participants and they decided to merge with other teams, rather than go home without a race. I observed them closely and saw that they were chatting happily until the race began. Just as the race began, they took to their feet and gave it all they had. Just after the race was over they again became a bunch of teenagers, happily laughing and giggling and discussing how each one injured her foot during the course of the race.

Surely these children taught me how to choose my battles and to compete with others only when absolutely necessary!