The Good Ol’ Sporting Antagonist

If you have siblings, have you ever opposed them for the fun of it? Or perhaps you might challenge someone in your life out of habit? Is there something about the long-term role of some friends and family members that makes us frequently adopt the oppositional role? It’s natural, yes, to feel competition, but why? Does it advance self and others? Do we, like lion cubs, rare up and smack down, to become stronger in the end?

There is a definite degree of sibling rivalry which qualifies as abusive. But sometimes a little opposition can be healthy. Argumentation, though it would annoy any captive audience, can lead to better reasoning–that is, in the distant, non-insistent future. Even as we grow older and–hopefully wiser–our positions often need to be challenged. Questioning (either from an inner or outer source) can lead to re-examining and knowing with greater confidence. Watching someone develop from the same place as us who may have a different outlook than us, can give us a greater appreciation for our uniqueness. Competition, too, can strengthen that desire for “our own things.” You like pizza, then I like burgers; you like apples, then I like bananas. Isn’t there something good about diversifying our likes, even if it’s because we’re little nay-saying contrarians?

Competition can be healthy. We can look forward to it in our routines, in our conversations. It’s as though I can construct any conversation in my head already. “You can change your profile pic from the giraffe now, it’s been like a month since that riddle,” my brother would say. “Maybe I like being a giraffe,” is my reply.  A conversation might never occur but my mind will easily recall the oft-proffered pattern.

Do you think that “doing our worst” might bring out the best in others? Perhaps it only brings out our worst. Perhaps siblings (or whoever plays the Prost to our Senna), in their vast and awkwardest experience of us, seek to settle the score. Is that why they insist on humbling us: they’re just avenging those inescapable moments when we embarrassed them? Or perhaps they feels it’s just plain fun to push your buttons and get you on the defensive?

Are we any better for some of those embarrassing moments?  Do you have any thoughts on the positive side of sibling rivalry?


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