And the winner is…

I have a friend who is very different from me. For example, he’s young, he knows all about popular cultural trends, and he’s smart about tekkie stuff. One time a guy changed his phone number and I asked this friend to add the new one to my cell phone list, or roster, or directory, or whatever you call it. He did it in about 2 seconds. I asked him to delete the old number too. He said: “I did….” I would have messed with it for half an hour and had the new number entered three times and the old number would have been there forever. See, he’s a valuable friend.

Another reason we get along so well is because we love bad jokes, puns, and sarcasm. We even enjoy flinging goofy insults and if we’re the victim, we will even congratulate the insulter for the quality of the insult! Got a friend like that? I hope so.

He’s a student of Chinese and Japanese culture. Recently, for some reason the subject of game shows came up. He said there are different ones in Japan. Here, at the end of the show, there’s one big winner. There, the challenge of the game is presented and everyone who meets the challenge is a winner. If no one meets the challenge, all the participants are losers.

That idea sort of stuck in my mind and bugged me for a while. Seemed there was something to learn here. Could that game show format have value in other endeavors? I started wondering why there always has to be one big winner. Why can’t there be a whole bunch of winners? This isn’t the same as lame “participation trophies,” it’s more like a class of people all of whom accomplish some specific goal. It could be a simple goal, like the challenge in a game, or very serious, high level goal.

Obviously, there are some endeavors where we need clear winners. Maybe we shouldn’t award an Olympic gold medal to everyone who breaks the 10 second barrier in the 100 meter dash, it should go to the fastest of all. There really can’t be multiple Lombardi Trophies for all the teams that score a certain number of points or win a certain number of games. A golf tournament shouldn’t award equal prizes to everyone who’s under par, there should be one winner. But those are all games, fun and games.

When we approach every situation as a conflict, a conflict that we have to “win” in some sense, we are limiting the possibilities. When someone has to “win,” that means someone has to lose. One need look no farther than politics. Abhorrence of losing equals gridlock. How might we set things up so, when the challenge is met, all the participants achieve some level of success and maybe some kind of reward?

I’m thinking that if there is a serious issue, the goal should be established and everyone who helps achieve the goal by actually working toward it would receive recognition and reward. Those who can only criticize, stall, or stonewall are treated with public scorn and penalized at least by ridicule and better yet, by losing their status somehow.

What this might do, if people were paying attention, would be to call attention to the best performers and the best ideas.

On virtually every opportunity, I vote for third party candidates, the outliers, the underdogs…. I have the very unrealistic idea, a dream, I guess, that such a person can be elected and have a big impact since they would handle things so differently. Deep down inside, I know they can’t win and even if they do, political pressure will drive them to the status quo; an antagonistic system.

But back to the Asian game show format… Suppose we tried something like that. To heck with the two-party system or even a thee-party system. How ’bout a one-party system? Everyone works together and everyone wins.

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