Series Three: Blog Ninety-One
Caitlin Clark is a guard for the Iowa Hawkeyes women’s basketball team. This season as a sophomore she is scoring an average of almost 27 points per game, 7+ rebounds, 7+ assists and making nearly 1/2 of all the shots she takes. She is the most prolific scoring basketball player in all of college sports. A few days ago one of my sons asked if I had watched any of her highlights? I had not so we went to YouTube and watched a 10-minute highlight of her making numerous 3-point shots from the logo on the court which is a few feet shy from half court shots. The highlights were amazing. Afterwards, I made the comment that she was a really good player for a girl.
Later my son asked me about my comment. He pointed out that women hear that kind of remark all the time. He informed that it was a sexist remark. I listened and agreed. I apologized to both women sitting within earshot of my remark. Upon further conversation it was noted that comparing women’s accomplishments with men is like comparing apples with oranges. The conclusion was made that comparison breeds a form of competition that is not needed and distorts value of an individual’s achievement, particularly that of the woman being discussed.
It was a lesson well received. It helped me to consider a cultural influence that emphasizes comparison and stresses categories of achievement with judgment of who is better. Comparison fuels closed-hearted living. It can foster zero sum living which promotes judgment that creates winners and losers. One person’s gain or loss is predicated on the gain or loss of others.
The Dalai Lama once said that we must learn that humanity is all one big family. He wrote that human development relies upon cooperation and not competition. He concluded that we still focus too much on our differences instead of our commonalities.
Comparison emphasizes differences that judge good versus bad in human performance and existence rather than underscoring brilliance in the greatest of human beings.
Comparison is endemic to our society. The story is told of two younger fish swimming next to an older fish when a new fish swims to them and asks the older fish “how’s the water?”. The older fish responds and answers the question. After the newer fish swims away, the younger fish ask the older fish “what’s water?”. Comparison can be so consuming that our culture doesn’t even recognize it happening. Sizing people up happens all the time in recovery. It creates unnecessary judgment, intimidation and triggers putting some people on the high end and others at the low end of a totem pole, indicating who is esteemed and who is not.
Racial, sexist, economic comparisons form the categories of “haves” and “have-nots” in our society. Usually comparison is focused on outside appearance and accomplishment. As a result, people tend to look for the spectacular through behavioral achievement and get stuck in comparing one result with another. What gets overlooked is the brilliance that rests in the greatness of commonplace experience. Each of us has the capacity to resource meaning in life from the average experiences of daily living. Greatness in humanity is mined from every day experience and is incomparable. It is the evidence of human brilliance that often gets lost in a sea of social comparison.
There is a phenomena that happens when you keep pushing for more and more. You never get enough. When you try to fill the empty hole in your soul by pushing for more accomplishment and attainment, you become like a child who cannot get enough sugar. The achievement is never deeply satisfying if you fail to embrace the journey along the way. It’s the journey of the common mundane everyday experience that fulfills happiness.
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