I cannot help but think that much of the turmoil in the modern age relates directly to the way we treat losers, or on the very concept of loserdom itself. The word “loser” brings up a host of memories for me, such as a D.A.R.E. officer telling our elementary school classroom that people who smoke weed are “losers”, my baseball coach telling us not to be losers, and plenty of other snippets of adults referring to each other as losers in an effort to mock and demean, such as a congressperson calling the poor losers who do not deserve healthcare.
The children who are tragically driven to harm others or shoot up their school are by and large “losers” in the cruel time-honored game of school popularity. Religious or other violent extremists too have a high tendency toward being socially isolated with self esteem problems. Loneliness on a global scale is increasing at a rapid clip as the “unknown unknown” consequences of social media and technology on discourse begin to reveal themselves.
The mass of working class people who are voting for populist regimes on a massive scale across all major continents are “losers” in the game of global trade. Everyone knows to be true the adage that the people who are the hardest to love are in the greatest need of love.
To label someone a loser in any context is to label them as other in a way that demeans. Students of history may know that this very action has historically been the first step toward eventually exterminating that person, whether through violent coercion or simply neglect.
Those of us who are fortunate enough to rightfully call ourselves winners in the relative context of society have a real responsibility that is not being lived up to. We must teach our children through our own example that a loser anywhere is a threat to winners anywhere. To bully, pick on, or otherwise demean is a jerk move at any age, and everyone has noticed the tendency of kids to act like their parents, particularly when it comes to being a jerk.
The problem is that once a loser is created, it is very hard to uncreate. To think of the actions of the school shooter, extremist, populist voter, or uneducated poor is to realize the sheer destructive power and perpetuity of losers and winners in a zero sum game.
It is hard to find anyone in the western world who does not believe whole heatedly in the ideals of a free country. I believe that a necessary component of such a land is a culture that holds ethics in trade to be of the utmost importance. The idea that profit is the only bottom line is absurd and wholly nonsensical, exploiting the worst instincts of an otherwise noble creature. Anyone who harms or neglects others or the environment in the supply chain of their profit is violating the social contract that built this great country, and if enough people fall prey to that petty Fox News mentality then the whole system will surely collapse, a tipping point which arguably has been achieved.
The good news is that the next tipping point can be a positive one. All we have to do is not be a jerk.