Monday, July 06, 2015

Of winners and losers

Professor Sunanda Mahendra

When the Nobel literary award winner of France, the writer and philosopher, Jean Paul Sartre, came to know about his award, he had instantly declared that ‘even a winner is a loser and a loser a winner’. This philosophical statement remains a puzzle even to this day. But he clarified the statement later by saying that he is not ready to accept the award as it is basically earned money via social evils on the part of the givers, such as destruction purposes by the earner of money had made during his life time via the making of the atomic bomb. He added by saying that he could make his life happier devoid of such acceptance. ‘I am a winner in my own way’ he commented and left a galaxy of questions to be answered

Who is a winner and who is a loser?

This remains to be judged only by ascertaining the physical ways of living in a human society But who is a real winner?

Is it not a spiritual means of achieving a higher state of living?

Circumstantial situations such as, examinations, interviews, sports, competitions, struggles, political elections and perhaps legal trials have given way to winners and losers But it remains to be answered as to whether the process had been an actual ‘win’ during one’s life time

Which is worth winning?

The physical plane of living or the spiritual application that paves the way for a better state of living?

Which enables the winning of ones living conditions?

Can one win oneself in the restless plane of living packed with various types of stresses and strains? My learned friend, the specialist cardiologist, Dr Ruvan Ekanayaka, once told me that most heart conditions are created as a result of the stress and strains one undergoes in the busy life yearning to win mundane things. One who leads a life devoid of understanding the basic health conditions is indeed a loser.

The age old questions are manifold. The sages quote examples of winning and losing when they were enquired by monarchs and emperors regarding battles with enemies. Devoid of any self effort, one cannot be a winner. As such, the actual winning process originates from the bottom of the heart. If so, questions arise:

Who is a winner?

What makes a winner?

How did one win?

Who made him or her the winner?

Did he or she really win?

The same could be asked about the losers:

Why did he or she lose?

What made him or her lose?

Who made them the losers?

At the end of the day there is only a mere speculation of results. This is the winner and this is the loser. But this is reckoned as a mere judgement counting numbers or figures as adhered by the method adopted. The process though is not simple from the point of view of the particular situation which has been declared as regards the stance of the winner and the loser.

Perhaps the lapse of time makes one a winner and/or a loser. The idling process will never declare a winner. The plans ahead and the strategies one lays down help to win a particular situation as laid down above. ‘Slow and steady wins the race’ goes the Aesopian dictum revolved round the tale of the ‘hare and the tortoise’. The pundits will argue that this can never ever happen, as it is not realistic for a tortoise to win a race.

But the most significant factor is the steadiness it underlines on the part of the tortoise. Steadiness is a strategy that is laid down the centuries in the process of teaching patience necessary for winning. During the aftermath of the Second World War, a book came out written by a well known popular positive thinker Dale Carnegie titled as ‘how to win friends and influence people’.

This was an attempt to cull examples from actual social factors and situations pertaining to the winning or the overcoming of the physical plane of living conditions such as decision-making, excitement, agony and unhappiness.

The teachers of the day recommended this popular book to be read by their pupils. Business magnates obtained quite a number of answers and advice to their business dealings via these teachings that came as model exercises drawn from actual human situations. Most elections around the world are won in keeping with the campaigns popularly known as ‘election campaigns.’ There are multi dimensional ways of winning an election.

Some say, ‘we are going to win the election by addressing the conscience of the masses’. This is perceived as the noblest concept elaborated as one segment in the campaign. ‘In order to win the election we need more and more creative modes of communicating the intended message’ goes yet another winning formula. Some people used to say from time to time ‘we are going to win by hook or by crook’.

Can this formula be applied all the time to all the people? The answer is no. ‘We are going to win the election by convincing the people about what we intend to do’ goes another ideology.

But it does not happen hundred percent in the way one perceives. Sustained efforts in the promotions to the masses play a vital role in the political elections.

In the late sixties I had the opportunity of meeting the late writer J Vijayatunga of ‘Grass for My Feet’ fame in London. I remember what he told me about the winning of the first general elections on the part of the late SWRD Bandaranayaka on his return to Sri Lanka [then Ceylon] from Oxford in the late forties or fifties. It was the ‘winning formula’ of Dr Ananda Coomaraswamy that had spearheaded and had been of immense value to SWRD. Coomaraswamy as an anthropologist had advised him: “If you are going to do active politics in Ceylon, you got to address five contemporary sectors active in that social order. They are regarded as great opinion leaders in that cultural setup. You will see that they are no other than the priests, or the clergy, physicians, teachers, farmers, and workers.

You need to address them closely and intimately. Either you need to get them down to your place or go to them and get to know them sensitively. So plan the strategy and carry on the intended message to them.”

Bandaranaike got their representatives down to his place. This was the ‘winning formula’ for the origin of the well known Sinhala slogan.

Way down that slogan came to be known as ‘sangha veda guru govi kamkaru’ or the pancha maha balavegaya (five great forces). In order to win one needs a motto or guidelines either written down or passed down orally.

Winning is not easy. Winners have to be thinkers. Winning does not come in idle situations or in a vacuum.