Competition. It’s the American way, right?

Position pitted against position. People pitted against people. Nation pitted against nation.

Liberals versus conservatives. Right versus left. Protestants versus Catholics. Bloods versus Crips. Yankees versus Red Sox. Coke versus Pepsi. America versus China. It goes on and on and on. We’re bombarded by it from every angle.

It rears its head in all circles – individual, group, community, ethnic, and national. It’s endemic in every type of venture and activity – corporate, social, and athletic. It infects every part of being – physical, mental, emotional, psychological, and spiritual.

Almost everything is turned into a battle for supremacy, a winner/loser scenario. Every traffic light becomes a herald of the race. Every minor disagreement becomes a last stand.

Some contests are healthy. A little rivalry or struggle helps to temper and test us, sometimes entertain us. Without experience with challenge, we are inept in the greater battles.

But we often forget that each victory gained has a necessary opposite outcome: persons who summarily experience failure and the ramifications of defeat.

It’s evident even in the seemingly mundane. When one advertising agency wins a major account from another, people are fired. People lose their homes. Marriages fail.

Yes, everything has its consequences. The pursuit of personal or corporate triumph means that the button is pushed continually.

And as we unfairly use snap decisions and opinions to polarize things, put people and positions into "us versus them" settings, we use such grounds to rationalize such competition. After all, it’s just "the Chinese" or "the liberals" we are competing against, right? By generalizing and sub-humanizing, we feel better about pushing the button.

"Gotta stop those darn Indians and Southeast Asians from taking our jobs and profits!"

As we protect American jobs from going overseas, an unemployed Thai worker makes the excruciating decision to sell his eldest daughter into the sex trade. To not do so would mean that his other three daughters would perish from starvation.

As we place high tariffs on agricultural products from India, a farmer outside of New Delhi cannot meet his obligations to his finance company. Broken and out of options, he and his whole family drink poison.

As we stigmatize those who don’t "buy American," we lessen the ability for the laborer in China to feed his family on $2 per day. He abandons his child at the local orphanage.

We’re one of the richest nations on the planet. We compete to get the newer car and bigger home while people living in cardboard boxes die. We have surplus in excessive abundance. We don’t need to win every economic global battle.

Folks, it’s not supposed to be this way. Don’t buy into the lie. Jesus taught against such thinking.

We have to embrace a more global philanthropic perspective, a more neighborly perspective.

After all, the whole world is simply that…a collection of neighbors.

"The entire law is summed up in a single command: Love your neighbor as yourself." (Galatians 5:14)

To be continued…