The real "haves" are they who can acquire freedom, self-confidence, and even riches without depriving others of them. They acquire all of these by developing and applying their potentialities. On the other hand, the real "have nots" are they who cannot have aught except by depriving others of it. They can feel free only by diminishing the freedom of others, self-confident by spreading fear and dependence among others, and rich by making others poor."
- Eric Hoffer in “The Passionate State Of Mind, and Other Aphorisms” (1955)
My own ideas on the quote:
I need to go to a more personal level this time than has been my habit in commenting these great quotes of the past. This quote just moves me deeply, as I have never enjoyed direct competition in any form. In fact, I have always shied away from it.
However, I get immense pleasure from learning something new and I have always really liked competing with past myself. I must have a strange inverted psyche, but I really have never got any real pleasure from defeating other people in an open competition.
This must be also because of a very deep inner insecurity. However, I am also cursed with an overblown sense of empathy. This defect of character does all too often force me to think how the defeated would feel, and I just can't help it. My solution has always been to avoid direct competition as long as it is possible.
However, I have had no trouble in competing for a place in university or for a job. In these instances, situation is made much easier when one not needs know the other people that take part in the competition. The situation is made much easier when one never gets to see the ones who did not get to the university or did not get the job because of me getting the spot.
However, I have never competed in sports or sought personal promotion in the workplace. There has always been people that I know who have been interested in the same job and and I have seen them as just as worthy as I am for the job.
So, the lack of a competitive urge in a person is not without negative consequences. On the other hand, being a little boss a bit further up in the organization would not have been my thing, after all.
On a more general level, my personal example can show that not all humans are necessarily competitive animals. This is true, even if we are quite universally led to believe that joy of defeating other people in competition is a thing we all just thirst to do. Naturally, this claim can still be true for many other people.
However, nobody really knows how much of this desire is learned during the long of years of competitive indoctrination in school and many kinds of playing-fields. People who teach us to be utterly competitive seemingly think that they are doing us a major service when they succeed in diminishing our empathy for the losers and in creating worship of the winners. However, even this just might not be a universal trait of all humans.
(This piece was refurbished on 19th of December, 2012)
"Eric Hoffer (July 25, 1902 – May 21, 1983) was an American social writer. He was the author of ten books and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in February 1983. His first book, The True Believer, published in 1951, was widely recognized as a classic, receiving critical acclaim from both scholars and laymen, although Hoffer believed that his book The Ordeal of Change was his finest work. In 2001, the Eric Hoffer Award was established in his honor with permission granted by the Eric Hoffer Estate in 2005."