A race is something we are used to from growing up. As a child, we were always racing with each other. See who’s the fastest. See whose shoes made them the fastest, if not just fast-er!
A race to finish your exam. A race to the end in order to meet the deadline of your project.
And if you ever ran track, races became serious. There was a ribbon, a prize at stake for winning the race, or even setting certain records to be placed in your school’s halls to be recognized for years to come. You may have even been able to compete in states if you were really good, which was such an honor to be recognized as the top tier of your craft, of your sport in your state of residence.
See, from the beginning we’ve been trained to think and believe that a race has everything to do with a clear winner and a loser. First place, then every other place after it. No one really remembers the second and third place winners, only those people who actually earned those subsequent places.
So perhaps we can all say that we’ve been duped to think that this whole race thing is all about a clear winner and loser.
And right now, I think we can safely agree that there has been a clear winner. One who has designed and changed the rules as he’s gone along in order to ensure he keeps winning said race.
I used to run track. When running either the 200 or 300 yard hurdles, or even the 4×100 or 4×400 relays, the person who was in the inner-most lane, closest to the inner-field seemed to have a disadvantage. From the looks of it, it appeared as though that person was starting far behind everyone. I mean, you could literally see your competition along the bend waiting to go. It seemed like there was a tremendous amount of space to makeup in a short amount of time. Well, honestly, the SAME amount of time that they had.
Yet when we all reached the bend in the track and moved into the straightway, it was realized that we were all on equal footing. It just appeared as though we weren’t in the very beginning. Once you got over the mental hurdle of it seeming as though you were at a disadvantage, all bets were off at that point!
I invite you to use your imagination. Imagine, just for a second, that instead of the person ahead of you being truly in line with you, they were a given a head start. And not just a second or two (which we know makes a BIG difference in track and field – I mean, people win and lose by .01 of seconds!), but let’s say 35 seconds. What different do you think that might make in this race? What difference mentally and emotionally do you think it would make in this race? For the person with the head start? Well, they would clearly have nothing to worry about. They wouldn’t even have to look back to see where the competition is. It wouldn’t matter because there would be NO way their competition would catch them. Ever.
What about the person who is stuck at the starting line for those 35 seconds? They probably would feel defeated. Upset. Angry. Feel as though the whole race is unfair. Because, well, at that point, it is. Really unfair. They might even say to themselves “what’s the point,” and not give their all when the time comes for them to spring from the starting line. Even if they are a phenomenal runner, the odds have been stacked against them tremendously. And there may be the person who says “who cares, I’m still gonna run my best and my hardest just because,” and they do. To only lose to the winner who has long before them crossed the threshold of the finish line.
Now imagine that every race, every track meet you go to, this same scenario happens again and again. There’s no way you’ll win as the person with the disadvantage because that one person ALWAYS gets a head start. Kinda disappointing, frustrating, and deflating.
Now maybe you may begin to understand, on a very small scale, what the creation of races has done to those who have and those who do not. Even if given an opportunity, the decks are stacked for unfairness and ‘losing.’ Constantly and consistently.
We’re not even asking to negate the 35 second head-start that was given. We just want to start at the same time.
And truth be told, it doesn’t have to be about a clear winner and loser. Because if we look at it like a relay race as an example, each person on that team has a specific role and strength. We just want to be on that same team that truly has a fighting chance in this ‘race’ of life.