Letters to the Editor

July 22, 2010

When competition goes too far

To the editor:

Americans compete with each other for jobs, admission to college, parking spots, scholarships, prizes, awards and a good place in the grocery store checkout line. On the highway, Americans risk their necks and nervous systems to pass each other at higher and higher speeds on the road to nowhere.

On Mondays, we check the paper to see which movie grossed the most money that weekend - or which athlete or CEO is the most highly paid. Americans check the Internet or cable TV to find out which special-interest group has the greatest cultural or political influence, or who has the inside track. When we go out to buy toothpaste, we find that there are too many brands from which to choose - each one claiming to be vastly better than all the others.

We might compete with the person next door over who has the nicer yard, whose child goes to the better school, who is the better member of society or who has the better job and better benefits. In economics, supply is kept low to keep demand and competition high. At Christmastime, there is always a shortage of the most popular toy. Religions and political parties compete with each other over who has the greater claim on truth, patriotism and God's ear.


On TV, we see people behaving badly, cruelly, ruthlessly, unethically - climbing over each other like insects to see who is the "top chef" or the "survivor" or the sexiest, most promiscuous male or female roommate in the condo. Which of the New Jersey housewives is the meanest or the most foul-mouthed?

The ultimate form of competition is war - in which one nation proves to the world who has the better army, the better generals, the better weapons and the braver soldiers. Competition is healthy when the competitors are evenly matched and compete with each other in a spirit of self-respect, humility and fun, but when competition becomes a ruthless battle for survival and dominance, it becomes a great evil - one that will tear us apart as surely as it did the Roman Empire. In tough economic times, people tend to become cruel and callous. There are forces in the world that would love to see America self-destruct.

We Americans are becoming victims of our own competitive instincts. Our politics are becoming pathologically competitive and ruthless - as love of political party replaces the love of country and the common good. In America today, the winner takes all and the loser is left to die beside the highway. Our culture has become mean, ugly and vulgar as Americans compete to see who will become king or queen of the garbage heap.

As Jesus said: What does it profit a man to gain the world and lose his own soul?

Sam Cuthbert

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To the editor:

It is heartening to see evidence that West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin is beginning to hearten to the will of the voters, that the West Virginia voters themselves will decide who replaces the U.S. Senate seat held by the late Sen. Robert C. Byrd.

Manchin and the West Virginia Legislature should further clarify and reform West Virginia election laws to establish the forthcoming November elections as the appropriate election in which to do this.

They also should set an appropriate prior date and procedure for West Virginia's political parties to choose their candidates for this election.

Larry D. Kump
Falling Waters, W.Va.

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