About three hundred years ago, Tim Smith was walking down the street. His shoes, while still in fair condition, were slightly worn, the leather being scratched in a few spots.
The cobbler, Joe Smith, stopped Tim and said, “Oi, ther’ Tim, hows about a noo pair o’ shoes fer ya? I make ‘t best in all ‘t land.”
Tim replied, “Oi Joe, you know I gots quite the ‘and meself at fixin’ shoes, n I done fixed these up twice al’eady. I do reckon they be lastin’ ’bout two more fixins ‘fore I must needs see the likes uh you!”
Joe, saddened by Tim’s statement, quieted down and tried to sell shoes to some other passerby. Back in Joe and Tim’s time, money was a rare and precious thing. The vast majority of people maintained their own homes, clothing, food supply, simply because people could not afford to not have those simple skills. Because of this, there was little leisure time. Leisure was getting wasted off rye after 18 hours of working on a farm, or in a shop, or later, in a factory.
Today, Tim’s descendant Timmy has more leisure time than Tim Smith could ever dream of. Timmy works eight hours a day, and the rest is up to him. Timmy spends this extra time on the internet, or playing video games, or reading random articles.
But unlike Tim, Timmy is dependent upon Giant for his food, upon Nike for his shoes, upon Target for his clothes, Men’s Warehouse for his suit, Wells Fargo for his house, Ford for his car, Verizon for his internet connection, Seagate, ASUS, Microsoft, and Intel for his computer, Starbucks for his job, and upon so many more different companies for so many different things, only less than a handful of which are necessary for him to live.
Why does Timmy do this to himself?
Why does Timmy compete with his neighbors to see who can get the fastest car? Only the car manufacturer can benefit. Perhaps his neighbor works for Ford, and keeps tricking Timmy into buying more expensive vehicles.
Why does Timmy pay for the highest connection speed? What difference is it that the web page loads thirty seconds faster?
Why does Timmy drive so fast on the highway? Is his destination that important, that he has to reach it five minutes sooner?
Why did Timmy pay five hundred thousand for a house that only he will live in?
Someone please tell me. Please. Please tell me from where this ingrained notion of competition originates, where the idea comes from that if you’re not more successful than your neighbor, then you’re a failure.
Can’t we all just chill out?