Competition is not violent, separation is.

Here’s what we mean:

The practice of integrating nonviolence into the quotidien is centered in the vision of the unity of life. When we engage with the vision of a unity between ourselves and others we see our well-being in theirs and we see their well-being as we work for our own. This is what Martin Luther King Jr. meant when he said, “I cannot be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you cannot be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be.”

In this way we can begin to perceive that acts considered violent often operate from the notion that we are separate from one another. In a vision of separateness I can harm my environment and think that I am not harming myself. In this vision I believe that I can pursue my own well-being at the expense of that of everyone else. In this vision of radical separateness upon which our culture is founded we will find violence at every level: from the way we treat ourselves to the way we treat others, our environments and the systems we build to maintain “security”.  

The problems of the world are not rooted in competition but in separateness. Competition is an inherited instinct, a trait of human personality, which like many other traits, when we project them at others from the worldview of separation, lead to a perception of violence. However we can turn competition inward and use it to our nonviolent advantage. Instead of competing with others for scarce resources on a finite planet, I can compete with myself to develop those resources which are infinite, such as love, generosity, compassion and respect. I want to compete not with others but with my highest vision of myself and harness my competitive edge toward a positive end that helps everyone.

Lao Tzu sums it up best in this passage,

The Best: 

The best, like water, benefit all and do not compete.

They dwell in lowly spots that everyone else scorns.

Putting others before themselves,

they find themselves in the foremost place

and come very near to the Tao.

In their dwelling, they love the earth;

In their heart, they love what is deep;

In personal relationships, they love kindness;

In their words, they love truth.

In the world, they love peace.

In personal affairs, they love what is right.

In action, they love choosing the right time.

It is because they do not compete with others

that they are beyond the reproach of the world.