What the Deuce: Charmin Soft

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Charmin Soft

"When I grew up, my mother told me to clean my plate, because people were starving in China and India. Now I find myself telling my children, 'Do your homework because there are people in China and India Starving for your jobs'." - Thomas Friedman in Wired magazine

Of late, Americans are losing jobs to India and China; this is a fact. Call centers are moving to Banglore and professionals from overseas are being brought to serve as programmers and IT specialists. Its a trend that started in the 1990s and which is prevalent today.

I am a child of Indian immigrants and being first generation, I still have plenty of family in India. This has given me an opportunity to travel to my parent's homeland multiple times. On my most recent trip, in 2002, I really understood why Americans are feeling the the pressure of a global society. Of course there are the economic factors. But there is something else, something that can't be measured using traditional metrics that is causing this phenomenon.

Simply, it seems that people in India have more desire and are more competitive than their American counterparts. This isn't to say that Americans aren't competitive. In fact, some of my friends and classmates are the most competitive people I have met. But on the whole, I really think that people in India, from top to bottom are more competitive because of the sheer number of people fighting for a finite number of jobs. If you aren't the best, you aren't going to get a good paying job, and you aren't going to make it. Its definitely a dog eat dog mentality in India, more so than it is here in US.

Obviously, we can partly solve the competition problem by better education our citizens. Schools definitely need an upgrade, especially when our students lag behind in math and geography. We can also do something else - instill that dog eat dog mentality in our kids, reversing a frightening trend I see permeating our society.

What the hell am I talking about? Well, for one thing we can stop doing idiotic things like this. Although I don't find Jay Mohr funny, I couldn't agree with him more in this case. Oh yeah, props to him for landing Nikki Cox - how that happened, I don't know. But I do know this, if Mohr can land a woman like her, there is hope for all of us.

I find it ridiculous that we are emotionally softening up the young members of our society by creating sports leagues where there are no winners and losers and there are no homeruns. I find it incredulous that there are school districts where kids don't play dodgeball because if its inherently competitive nature. I find it appalling there is a gym teacher in America who doesn't use jump ropes in his class because it could make some students feel inadequate if they tripped. What does he do? Imaginary jump rope. What the hell is that?

I understand that if we want kids to get involved in sports we should make it fun for them. I also agree that sports have, in certain situations, gotten overly competitive. But to go to this extreme is unnecessary. Sports teach kids to win and lose. They teach kids how to be good sports and win with class. Kids can learn things from losing. They can learn that life goes on. They can learn to be motivated by their shortcomings. Like Mohr said, its a parent's job to help kids learn these lessons, life lessons.

If we teach kids that we are all equal all the time, a dangerous precedent is set. What happens when a kid finally has to try out for a team and gets cut? What happens when a kid applies to his dream school and is denied? Sports teach kids how to deal with these situations. Granted they can learn to deal with life's bumps in other ways, but sports to seem to be the arena in which these lessons are most likely to be learned, because of the inherent competitive nature of sports.

Kids need to know that some people are good at sports and others are good at music. They need to learn that life is not always fair and that hard work is needed for success. They need to know that life is competitive and that there are winners and losers. If we don't teach our kids about these things at an early age, I'm sure they'll learn when they are older from the Chinese or Indians.


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