"If providence did beards devise,
To prove the wearers of them wise,
A fulsome goat would then, by nature,
Excel each other human creature." - Thomas D'Urfey

Saturday, May 19, 2007

A Treatise on Competition


What's the big deal with competition? What's so important that it requires being 'first' or even 'best'. And why does anyone need to be 'best', in the , pardon the pun, 'first' place? Take Ella for example. When the sacred Peanuts are doled out, Ella is leaning over the gate stretching that long 'graceful', 'best' neck to the max in an attempt to be 'first'. Half the time she ends up choking herself. Now is this really worth all that effort? Me? I just hang back and look 'pitiful'. Works every single time. I get more Peanuts than anyone else because the goatmother always ends up feeling sorry for me. And this method has a double reward because Ella spends so much time trying to butt me out of the way that she misses out on a whole lot of the goodies. Wit far exceeds brawn, don't you think?

In my humble and wise opinion, this whole 'first-best' idea simply displays a lack of confidence. You see some goats, and even some people, just have this idea that competition is the way to get ahead in life, be 'someone' and get noticed. They don't have any confidence in themselves. Thus, they think discourteous and sarcastic manners will make them 'expert' and gain them respect. Belittle someone and make yourself bigger! Go for that brass ring and by all means be FIRST! Bleat louder than any other and you will not only 'win', but you will be revered and feared in doing so! Does anyone really learn anything from that except to be fearful? I don't think so, Tim.

From a philosophical standpoint that idea just doesn't stand to reason. Chrysippus, a disciple of Zeno (remember good ole' Zeno?) said, "And this very thing constitutes the virtue of the happy man and the smooth current of life - when all actions promote the harmony of the spirit dwelling in the individual man with the will of that which orders the universe." And you are thinking, 'now what the hay does that mean???' It means, dear friend, that good things come to those who not only wait, but sit back and think it over before they act. It means being courteous to the other goats around you, all the while planning the most advantageous and smoothest mode of action to get your Peanuts. It means realizing that we are all 'one' despite our differences. It means acting in 'harmony...of that which orders the universe'. It means being peaceful.

Montaigne said, "The conduct of our lives is the true reflection of our thoughts." In keeping with this idea, my thought is this: If you build it (confidence), they will come. There is no need to be 'pushy' to get what you want. Being rude eventually comes back to slap you on the tail. Be kind, but use your brain. Respect those around you. After all, at the end of the day, we all eat our Peanuts the same way.