Monday, December 6, 2010

87) Teach children lessons - winning by fair means

"We are not interested in the possibilities of defeat. They do not exist."
Queen Victoria (1819-1901).

Did Queen Victoria repeat one of Alexander's axioms? We do not know. What we do know is that Alexander ruled out the option of losing. Here is how he demonstrated his winning-belief. His Generals had failed , after repeated attempts, to capture a rather elusive territory. So he decided to lead them on their last charge. As the soldiers sailed to their target, they spotted a large number of enemy ships anchored at port. The large number of ships suggested that the opposition would be formidable. Fearing defeat, his soldiers pleaded with Alexander that they return home. He would have none of it. They disembarked at a secluded spot on the enemy shore. Then looking at the boats that they had just pushed under cover, Alexander ordered the soldiers to burn them. They were stunned. How would they go back? But no one dared disobey Alexander. In dismay and fear they burnt the boats. Looking into their faces drained of hope, Alexander promised them that they would return home in the enemy ships. To do that, they would have to fight for their lives to capture both ships and territory. They fought with unusual valor and won, to go back in the enemy ships.

We cannot but admire the winning attitude in Alexander. Some of us have the same drive. To win always. Winning is good if the means are fair. But winning at all costs casts doubts on our motives. Bending rules and compromising on ethics does our reputation no good. When we win unfairly, then winning is losing. The tragic part is that our children watch us scheme and plot the downfall of others, that they begin to adopt our ways. They will lie and not feel ashamed; cheat and not feel guilty; tread on other toes and shrug the incident away; and gloat. Unless we teach them to play fair they will celebrate pyrrhic victories and hollow triumphs.

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