A Gayle Force: Average Perfection
Read this. That is all. All I care to say is "Amen sister."
Okay, I want to say a bit more than that. I love the way my sister expresses things. I love what she has to say here.
As I read this, I thought about the ways in which competition not only undercuts our ability to be charitable (with ourselves and others), to share our own and lift others' burdens, and to accept and work with and on and through the weaknesses that matter (as opposed to cultivating some pretty undesirable traits - I mean, competition rarely brings out the best in anyone), but the ways in which it also disconnects us from other people. Whether those closest to us, or those in our larger communities, the competitive drive separates us emotionally and spiritually from other people, and it limits our ability to really appreciate and connect to the divinity in ourselves and in others. How can we really connect to others when we are constantly evaluating our relationship with them through a glass of where we fall in relation to each other on the competition scale? Many may read this and think they never do that, but they probably do. I know I do, and others I know do, even when we don't mean to.
This great race can cause people to balk at ideals that could, if seen in the right light, give us understanding, compassion, guidance, and hope. Competition not only breeds disunity, but it brings out defensiveness when people contemplate (and miss the point of) certain ideals ("Be ye therefore perfect"). Defensiveness that comes from a feeling of falling short, which can manifest itself both as direct defensiveness ("But I'm doing the best I can!") and what feels like arrogance or judgment ("Well, I am doing better than him/her!"). This is usually a symptom of misunderstanding the ideal and how we can live in relation to such things within the context of our varied and "average" mortal experiences. It also comes from missing the point about which ideals matter in the grand scheme of things. If we lose the ability to see the purposeful distinction between the ideal and reality, then we lose the opportunity to see ideals in a way that enhances our understanding of God, the Atonement, ourselves, and others, and to live in relation to ideals in a way that works for our better good and the better good of others.
The best, most hopeful part of it all is that the great race is an illusion - something we've created and that we ourselves perpetuate. And, if an illusion, then something that we can walk away from toward something better. Something real.