One's real life is often the life that one does not lead.

~ Oscar Wilde ~

A Challenge Not A Race

October 15th, 2013 ~ Est. reading time: 2 mins, 40 secs

Life invites us to handle challenges.

Life invites us to handle challenges.

I like to think of the Human Challenge rather than the Human Race. Yes, I know it’s not about racing around. But the way people behave, you could be forgiven for thinking getting ahead of everyone else really is the name of the game.

Still, if you replace race with challenge the emphasis shifts. What are the challenges we that face? How can we overcome the difficulties we collectively meet and make the world a better place?

Our perceived need to compete is one area that conjures up different images. You could think of competition as something that sharpens us and makes us better at what we do. Or, you could consider the benefit of joining forces to create grander achievements, thanks to the effect of team effort.

Obviously it’s a tautology as we could go round in circles never quite getting a clear answer. But one thing is certain, changing the way we look at problems so that we don’t just look after “number one” or merely selfish interests will definitely make a positive contribution.

Self-interest is part cultural, part survival. Without some we don’t care enough for our own welfare. Too much and we lose sight of our togetherness and need to help each other out.

Somehow, we’ve got to strike a balance, if we are going to achieve big results (and these days, with some 7 billion people inhabiting the planet, big is necessary), we are going to need to think differently.

Because the matter of famine won’t go away through wishing. While, a safer world that no longer needs to rely on precarious fuel reserves needs deliberate worldwide action.

But, of course, you know all that, don’t you? We all do. But somehow, common knowledge isn’t quite enough to get sufficient traction to make things happen.

That’s why I take  a long-term view. Just like a court case that drags on for ages, major projects can too. If we all pressed our governments to give 1 or 2% of what we earn, zap! Hunger would be history throughout the entire world. So whilst it might seem like an impossible task, achieving is closer than we think.

That’s also true about adapting to modern fuels too. Solar technology is evolving to be profitable and efficient. Batteries – so long the bugbear of clean technology –  require scientific and business initiative. Fortunately, that’s already happening and reasonably soon, we will reminisce about having to charge our phones up daily, and laugh about electric cars needing a chassis full of batteries to get up to the corner store.

Challenges take effort. Whether it’s curing a contagious disease, overcoming corruption,  or protecting an endangered creature, these issues are never easy. But together we have the intelligence and the means to achieve the most extraordinary things.

So, never say great challenges cannot be overcome. For, even if nobody else seems to notice, it only takes a few to tell the story and raise the issue. Then, with enough understanding action can happen.

As we live our own private life, it’s easy to forget we also have a say on the world stage. It may be a small one. Yet, collectively it can becomes part of a very big voice. That kind of involvement appeals to some people greatly, while others prefer not to notice. Yet, I believe, it’s part of being a thinking person to do something about the things we genuinely care about.

Take your particular passion for challenges and let it leads you. Just remember that fixing big issues takes many hands. Talk about what you believe needs doing and raise issues in wider circles. Normal folk can do that, and it’s good to be reminded that you and I can too.

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