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We have an interesting social fabric; complex, patterned, colorful, stretchable, time worn and strong. We are unique to the extent of our particular history; but we resemble many other similar societies.
Our social fabric provides basis for our relations; the way we deal with others; interact within community; and support or undermine the society at large. Our social fabric is a living being. We wear it, hide behind it, undress it, spoil it, soil it, clean it, dye it and do whatever else we can do with it.
Several yarns make our social fabric. Two of these however are so predominant that they overshadow all others. These are ‘negative competition’ and ‘guilt induction’. It is worthy to look at these in more detail, understand them and learn to deal with them.
A world without competition is a worthless and colorless place. Competition brings change, betterment, improvement, prosperity, motivation, sense of achievement, courage, resilience, cohesion, compassion, empathy and happiness. Competition can also bring status quo, fear of failure, ruthlessness, overtaking, individual glory, anxiety, depression, heartburn and destruction. On the balance, competition is more desirable if the participants are willing to play by the rules; if not always, most of the times.
Competition in our set up not only has more negative elements; we have also changed the rules to suit our needs and justify our means.
Our competition is no-holds-barred. We compete to kill the opponent; not just win for ourselves. We are trained to find the most negative things and use these in ingenuous ways to inflict harm on others. We have developed unlimited capacity to enjoy the defeat and misery of others. We have a huge arsenal to last a lifetime and wipe out the opposition and its coming generations. We have great mind strength to design the most effective methods of torture. But so is every other society; what is the difference? The difference is that they do it individually while we do it as a community.
We compete on the usual and unusual things. Food, clothes, education, religion, health, beauty, money, pomp, show, luxury, leaders, wives, children, hollowness, shallowness, diseases, miseries, government support, charity and donations. Our sense of competition is weird as we mostly compete on vague, useless parameters.
We also compete with everyone simultaneously. We rather compete in air. Whether we know the person, have any interest in him or not, we shall compete all the same. It makes our situation entirely unpredictable; we don’t know who to tackle.
In summary, our sense of competition is sharp, courage to compete is strong, stamina to compete is long, and ability to compete is excellent. The core problem is that we believe in ‘negative competition’ most of the time, if not all the time.
This is not a pass time; it is a passion that consumes our lives. We have to, somehow, anyhow induce guilt in everyone whose life we touch. They may be our own life partners, children, brothers, sisters, relatives, friends, colleagues, juniors, seniors, shopkeepers, tailors, grocers, beggars, political leaders, business partners, and anyone else.
Our means and methods of doing this are versatile and we have polished these to perfection over time. We start our day with it and close our night with it. It is our way of life and we have made it our destiny to follow this path whole heatedly.
Look at this conversation. “You did not ask me how I was; why would you? You don’t really care about me” and on it goes till the poor listener dies from guilt. He does not; he is from the same material. He retorts “Have you seen lately what is happening to the house or children? You are always engrossed in your own fictitious problems. Why do I have to put up with you?” The effort is fully on to induce guilt in the other person.
We try to induce guilt while we congratulate, condole, visit a sick or even bless someone. Look at some sentences.
“Congratulations on completing your MBA; but you should have opted for finance rather than marketing as major”
“Congratulations on your marriage. I hope you won’t forget friends under pressure from your wife”
“Very sorry about your father’s death; I don’t think he really got the treatment he should have”
I love this one particularly. “I heard you had an accident; how did you do it?
“May Allah Bless you; You wouldn’t be much without His Blessing”
We could go on and on. Everywhere, all the time, style is the same. We cannot help putting a piece which is aimed at inducing guilt in others.
Why do we do that? Simply because we want them to feel small, come under pressure and never stand up to us. This is our way of dominating others; although pathetic, yet it is quite effective.
How to Deal
The onus lies on us to put a brake as we cannot control others. We must consciously check ourselves. Two negatives in this case do not make one positive. We must protect ourselves from negative competition and stay away from doing it. There is likelihood that after a while we may be spared.
Guilt Induction is tougher. The only way to deal with it is to get tough. Two steps are important. We stop inducing guilt in others and we refuse to accept whenever someone does it to us. We must do what is proper to do socially and morally but never give in to guilt induction effort, no matter how strong it may be. With conscious effort and time, there is great hope for survival.