This is the text of our recent letter to the Western Morning News:
One of the things that most concerned us about the recent Olympics was the obsession with gold medals and winners. Of the 10,500 Olympic athletes, only about 1000 actually won medals of any type. Thus over 90% of the competitors became “losers”. Whatever happened to the Olympic spirit where participation is paramount? The founder of the International Olympic Committee; Baron Pierre de Coubertin believed that "The important thing in life is not to triumph, but to take part".
But this obsession with competing to win has become the dictum of modern industrial civilisation and the recent Games were enlisted to emphasise this. Competitiveness has replaced cooperation, a worrying trend that starts with school and now pervades all strata of society.
Competitiveness is an expression of the power of self above the common good. It pitches human vs. human, and – even worse – human vs. nature. It underlies the growing gap between rich and poor. It is the guiding principle of consumer capitalism, which is driving the inexorable exploitation of limited natural resources. And it explains why governments are unable to negotiate an international climate treaty.
We recognise that competitiveness is a part of our human nature, but so is co-operation. We could choose to emphasise the latter more than the former. Society as a whole would then be the winner rather than the 1% that currently have that privilege. This is not an impossible dream, but an ideal that many of us believe is truly possible. We might then have a chance of building that “Big Society” which is proving so elusive given our present priorities.
Phil Foggitt, Susan Hannis, Laurence Shelley, Mozz Spurway.
Members of Devon Dark Mountain