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Lions Roar : November 2013
a game resembling tic-tac-toe. Each player was to tally his or her points. Most of us figured we were competing against our partner to see who could score more points. But one of the pairs got the idea that if they cooperated rather than com- peted and pooled their points, their combined score would be higher than everyone else’s. Unlike the rest of us, who had assumed that every twosome would have a winner and a loser, this cooperative pair decided not to play as if they were bat- tling each other. They outscored the rest of us because they had chosen to work together. Competition is natural, a part of the human arsenal for sur- vival, but when it creates enmity, we need to question its power we get locked into a vicious circle of measuring our strength by disparaging others. I remember watching the ice-dancing competition at the Winter Olympics one year. One couple had barely finished their intricate dance when the commentator barked out, “Lacks artistry!” Although bolstering our status by dismissing the efforts of others is presented as normal behavior by our culture, the feeling of superiority it produces is hollow. In contrast, mutual respect and appreciation among competitors breed a sense of solidarity. The Insight Meditation Society once held a retreat for our board members, during which a consultant we were working with gave us an exercise. We were separated into pairs to play Know Your Enemy We call people who harm us enemies, but is that who they really are? When we see the person behind the label, say Buddhist teachers SHARON SALZBERG and ROBERT THURMAN, everyone benefits. SHAMBHALA SUN NOVEMBER 2013 37