Monday, March 31, 2008

Winners and Losers

I watched a Saturday morning cartoon with my daughter this past weekend. It was an episode of Dragon, where Dragon and his friend Alligator were playing games together (the episode called "Dragon's New Game"). They were trying to figure out how to play games where there would be no winners or losers.

In this episode, the reason this became a problem was that whenever Dragon would win a game, Alligator would have to lose. This made Dragon's friend, Alligator, sad. And Dragon didn't like to make his friend sad. Also the reverse would be the same result too. Whenever Alligator won, Dragon would feel sad.

They sought together how to play without that happening. So they went about creating a game that had no winners or losers. The whole thing ended up where they had a rule-bound game that was just fun to play. I think a saw a bumper sticker somewhere that said that the more laws you have the more totalitarian the government. I am not sure I totally agree with that, but there is a central truth. When we try to legislate outcomes, we become a more totalitarian society.

But that is not why I am mentioning the cartoon episode. I actually enjoy the show, Dragon. And it is entertaining for my girls. But like anything we watch on TV, I always check out what they are watching and contrast the worldviews presented with Scripture. And believe me, no matter how entertaining something is, it always has a worldview, because someone created it, and there is always a presumption behind it.

In this case the subtle (or not so subtle) message was that competition is bad, because there are winners and losers.

I asked my girls, "So. Why is having a winner and loser bad?"

"Well, because there are winners and losers, someone has to be sad," they tried to postulate.

"Really? Why does someone have to be sad because they lost a game to their friend. Why aren't they happy for their friend? Or rather glad that they can learn from their mistakes?"

My girls are too young to go any deeper than this, so I pointed out the problem. "The Bible says that it is wrong to envy. We are responsible for how we handle our wins and our losses. The issue with God is our character. He isn't concerned with making sure our circumstances in life make us happy, or someone else happy. He doesn't want us to deny what we have because someone else envies us. He also doesn't want us to deny responsibility for our own attitudes and behaviors because someone else has what we want.

My daughters understood immediately. "So, dad, we should be happy whether we lose or win. Right daddy?"

"Right. But I would add we shouldn't gloat when we win either. We should act graciously and with respect either way. God doesn't like prideful winners nor sore losers."

I only wish adults would believe this too.

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