Competing to Win Or Taking an Opportunity?

During Obama’s campaign while he was competing with Hillary Clinton there were those Republicans who, in each state campaign, calculated which candidate would be slightly ahead, and then voted for the other in an attempt to keep the opponents as closely balanced as possible. Their goal was, of course, to ‘bleed dry’ the Democrats.

This is of course an old strategy, and examples of it echo through folklore right through to today’s equivalent of folklore – science fiction. There is a STAR TREK episode in which conflicting protagonists had been secretly antagonized by beings of another planet in an effort to prolong their conflict to be an endless stalemate. The antagonists profited by ‘harvesting’ the psychic energy of the protagonists’ conflict. And, there are those who make the argument that the CIA and other intelligence agencies do similar since, their job being to furnish information about the enemy, they ask themselves what would happen to them if there were to be no enemy? Insuring that there will be in the future is job security to them.

When we compete for anything we normally step into our Warrior archetype. The Warrior archetype fights to win. Honor is everything to him; for in winning there are the spoils of war, or of the contest, to gain; and if gained in an unfair or dishonorable way they would serve as salt to rub into a wounded conscience. Everything from chivalry to the provisions of the Geneva Convention issue from this basic characteristic of the Warrior archetype.

By contrast the opportunist steps into the Opportunist, or vulture, archetype. Like the vulture he is only taking advantage of ‘good luck’. He has no code of honor to satisfy and so to him the ends justify all means. He is not winning anything. In many cultures, the vulture archetype was despised. The Greek word SKANDALON which meant “snare”, was associated with “vultures” who would set traps to catch their game, and so not have to answer to the code of honor of those who fought for it. Our word ‘scandal’ derives from it.

But alas, today’s situations and issues we face are not so cut and dried. They are neither a contest or a conflict, nor an opportunity to take. They are somewhere in between. And so we bring both our Warrior and our Opportunist into the situation, with their differing values. The problem is, seeing how much the opportunist is despised in today’s culture as it was in classic Greek culture, the opportunist part of ourselves tends to be disconnected: and so to become a shadow. But shadow or no, it is still a part of us.

Dealing with problems only a part of ourselves experience

It is all to easy to sit on our tush and wail ‘it isn’t fair!’ And the all-to-often retort to this Victim archetype complaint is ‘life never was fair’. Such expression however would never come from either the Warrior or the Opportunist. For the Warrior, through his adherence to his honor code and indeed through his creation of it, is creating fairness itself. And the Opportunist is not and was never worried about what is fair.

Copyright (c) 2009 Dave Smart

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