To many, winning is everything and losing is bad and disgraceful. Many of us have our favorites and rankings, and everything must be judged by a single standard of greatness versus worstness. These are the “Zero Sum Theorists” among us and those known as “Either-Or” (Polar) Thinkers.
So many among us think only in terms of “better than.” Nothing can be appreciated for what it is. Everything to them needs to be ranked and scored. There is no beauty and appreciation of anything for what it is and can be, but only as it compares with others. We have our contests and shows such as America's Greatest Talent where blowing bubbles or performing illusions is ranked against singing and juggling as if there were but one scale from the best of things in the universe to the worst, and everything damn well be ranked against that scale. Each item, event and occurrence is an entry in a contest with no intrinsic value in itself.
Others among us are able to see and imagine the interplay between work and vacation; between class time and recess; between building up and tearing down; between making love and preparing for war; between being generous versus being tightfisted and stingy. These folks see the value of interplay; of yin and yang; of work versus respite; of battle versus nurture; of protectionism versus curiosity, interculturalism and exploration.
Too many of us cannot see any work of art; any act; any performance; any trip to a destination as a competition with every other act, performance or every other destination. We are obsessed with favorites; worsts and everything and every event as being “better than.” No gem, no puzzle, no master piece; no act has any value except in competition with every other. We cannot rest and be content until every foe and competitor is beaten and lorded over. There is no good and evil except for the greatest good and greatest evil with all things in the middle to be “in the way” and obstacles to prominence and victory.
These are the mono-dimensionalists and those for whom nothing has any value at all except in contrast to everything else. These neurotic souls can never rest and appreciate wonders of the world except as to what will pass muster in competition. For them there is no awe or sense of wonder, love, and appreciation but only the need to topple what might be the highest and best in favor of something of our own that we can make better.
Tell a mono-dimensionalist that you have traveled to 37 lands and he demands of you to declare your favorite and perhaps insist that you rank them all on a single scale. But we might ask how is ice cream worse than a good days work? What makes winning a war better than getting into heaven? Why is winning at chess better than listening to an opera? Why is scoring and pitting nominees for hero better than recognizing different kinds of heroes for their special contributions?