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Howard Cosell once remarked – “The ultimate victory in competition is derived from the inner satisfaction of knowing that you have done your best and that you have gotten the most out of what you had to give”. Wikipedia defines competition as a “contest between organisms, animals, individuals, groups etc. for territory, a niche, or a location of resources, for goods, mates, prestige, recognition, awards or social status, for leadership”. As is quite evident from this technical definition, competition can be between two or more people, states, nations, economies, companies, businesses, and in diverse fields such as politics, sports, literature, and so on.
The term ‘ethics’, derived from the term ‘ethos’, means ‘custom, habit’. The field of ethics investigates what is the best way for humans to live, and what kinds of actions are right or wrong in specific circumstances. Linda Ulder defines ethics as “a set of concepts and principles that guide us in determining what behaviour helps or harms sentient creatures”. As we are well aware, ethics is often considered as synonymous to morality, or moral behaviour.
Thus, considering the definitions of the terms “competition’ and “ethics”, it becomes quite clear that competition is posited as the opposite of cooperation. Since we live in a highly competitive world, where competition and cooperation are both indispensible, we must ensure that we enter into competition with our fellowmen in a spirit defined by ethical behavior. The IPR, patent laws and so on are the physical manifestations of such an attitude. Indira Gandhi once remarked – “There are two kinds of people in this world – those who do the work and those who take the credit. Try to be in the first group – there is less competition there”.
When one competes, one goes against one’s fellowmen. It is also often said that competition brings out the worst in man, if it is unethical. Unethical behaviour would display itself in acts such as plagiarising a work of art or literature, calling another’s inventions or discoveries in science and technology as one’s own and so on. The recent film – The Social Network – besides charting the spectacular rise of Facebook’s founder has embedded within it the subtly implicit message of unethical competition. Such behavior literally amounts to theft and robbery – two gravely immoral acts.
It is widely believed that the ultimate victory in competition is derived from the inner satisfaction of knowing that you have done your best and that you have gotten the most out of what you had to give. Our biggest competitor should be our own self.
Each day should be a struggle, a war, waged against one’s self to fare better in whatever one does, to evolve into a higher state of being each new day. One must set high standards for one self so that one can live up to that, and transcend the temptation to mediocrity.
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