some advantageous thoughts
ok, to get the ball rolling...
nothing about thos world is fair. there is no equality, no justice and not even hope, if you look at things from a long enough time span.
suppose one individual must compete with another. some advantages that a person possess are considered acceptible ethically , while others will be totally unacceptible and incongruous with the idea of a fair chance.
but will the choice of using the term advantage in itself imply unfair play?
consider watermelon-eating contests.
these are surly the most spiritually profound competitive venues that civilization has come up with. watermellons were carefully bred over thousands of years from small bland, cucumber-like fruit to large, sweet succulant perfection. this was a competition between individual specimens; all were eaten, but only the winners won the prize of continued propagation. thus, winners with an advantage were chosen, violently devoured, then spread across the juice-drenched soil. no one would want the advantage-less ones.
then a new advantage presented itself to the industreious cucurbit; the abilility to sound hollow and deep.
in ourvage of plenty, grocery shoppers are given a choice between conpeting specimens. the customers and attendants tap the engorged watermellon, struggling to devine their merits . some tap them hard, some place their ears upon the skin, and merely lightly brush. the delicate seismology of watermellon choosing is a beset with regrets, anguish but also jubilation and triumph. yet the watermellons, compete still. they care not for our pleasure, they care only for the reproductive advantages, and so they evolved further, to provide an acoustic enticement for their choosing. the right kind of sound is chosen, all else are sent to the dumpster. more advantages that are perhaps misleading, or outright falasious, and yet are a reward to the winner.
which brings us again to watermellon eating contests. these battles of mandibular prowess , these gastronomical skirmishes are epic and heroic. they symbolize all that is good and honorable about the perpetual search for and the gaining of advantage. i have watched these ceremonies , these rituals of sacrifice with great admiration and awe.
and yet i was never allowed to participate.
you see, my presence may be tolarated among humans , at least to a certain extent, but it is immidiately apparent, to all who see me, that my advantages regarding the rapid consumption of foodstuffs, talents that i had honed over years in the swamplands PRECLUDE me from ever participating in such a sacred and morally significant event.
why is that?
the high preists of the contests asserted many times, that the fact that i have five seperate digestive tracts, lengthy expansion areas in my stomachs, and eight pairs of mandibles , pose an unfair competitive advantage over other contestants. and so i am forever banned from participating in such events. the learned men question the fair-play of possessing the ability to rapidly devour and digest and label it as excessive, and in opposition to the spirit of event.
"if we admit you, and enter you in the list" one judge explained, seeing my anguish sympathitically "then surly we shall soon face other challengers, such as mechanical woodchippers, and black holes. placing HUMAN contenders among such ravenous singularities will be both UNFAIR and even UNSAFE!, why, if i accept you, we will not even be required to CUT the watermellons!!" he excalimed.
i protested that it was not my fault that i had evolved and am in possession of such attributes and that i intended to participate as a worthy competitor, eager to participate in observance of the strict regulations regarding the event.
"shall you fault my expandable stomachs? shall you sully the honor of my kind by alluding to miscarriage of rules, subterfuge, or non-compliance?!"
but the adjudicator was unmoved by my cries. "nay, i fault you not . i merely wish for you to understand that with humans and sporting events, we at times assign standards that shall remove a contender that will be unquestionably and invariably the winner. by enrolling you, i will doom all human contenders, to vie at best for the second place. they will have no possible way to contest your voracious appetite and so will not be fairly served by my office as the adjudicator. "
"but is not an advantage something to celebrate and exalt?" i asked, still struggling to reconcile the peculiarities of what the wise man was saying.
“oh, advantage is indeed celebrated in sports. But unlike other endvours where ANY and ALL advantages are accepted, the challenge of competition requires that the advantages woud be of a similar kind or within the kind shared by all contestants. In this case, all contestants have but one stomach, a single pair of mandibles, and only one row of teeth. Admitting someone such as you would be to sully the real , mental and emotional aspcet of the competition, and turn it to a matter of mechanics. Would you accept that the other contestants be given blueberries instead of watermelons, while we count the fruit in number? it would be perhaps proportional but still defeats the purpose of a watermelon eating contests, as that bluberries are NOT watermelons in the leadt. Nay, you shall not. You must forgive me, my friend. But perhaps i failed to explain this, as i construed that it was clear for you. A sporting competition is held in such a way that all contestants are put in an as much of an equal level of effort, as possible, and have as much of chance to win as possible. It is then up to their will , tolarance and stamina to succeed or fail over their peers. If either the specific conditions or contestants are fundamentally unequal, it is an unfair competition. We do not celebrate the advantage as a matter onto itself, but as a component that contributes to the success. Because of your grotesque physical capabilities, admitting you would be as much of an unfair competition as i could imagine.” he concluded and proceeded to envigilate the first round of contestants. As i watched them go through slice after slice of watermellon, it was clear to me that the judge had spoken true and that were i to enter , it would pose an unfair challange.
I then recalled challenges that i had participated in theprose.com . here my capabilities of eating watermellons rapidly had no bearing. Neither were any of my other advantages, such as secreting poison, or the ability to catch the scent of slamander eggs from a distance, neither were my acheivments in warming food in a microwave much of a contributing factor in the arts of composition. Consequentally i have grown to accept failure and tend to participate in challenges where no one else participates.
And how do advantages serve in affairs that are not mere passtime engagements?
Here things are even more complex morally.
Let me give you a professional example.
In these early summer months, students tend to be distracted and uninterested in the subject matter of myvlessons. like all teachers, I often face this challenge with frustration and unease. I am often tempted to exude some of my neurotoxin into the air. You must understand that I would never devour one of those cannibals. However, i often dream of the advantages of having a classroom filled with immobilized, stunned or temporarily paralyzed students. It is true that the students would not draw much of the material i hope to convey to them, being in such a state. Some perhaps will react more severely to this treatment.
But here i find myself at a disadvantage. I am not eloquent as my colleagues. Nor am i at all an enjoyable sight for my students, many of whom often shriek in terror as i approach heavily toward the classroom.
Is it then an unfair advantage that my fellow teachers have over me, that they actually possess a human form and that their voice is not the bubbly gurgle which i struggle to produce? Should they handicap themselves just because i have tentacles and that the laser pointer is not easy to grasp with the suction cups?
Of course not!
It is good that they have abilities that allow them to successfuly teach human younglings. My attributing these abilitis as “advantages” intrinsically necessitate a comparative state of mind to my observation. Consider then, that If i did not falter personally and observe their success thusly , then these abilities would not be definable as advantages but merely skills or talents or good fortune. It gets worse, because if i am saying that these are not only advantages, but “unfair” advantages i am also assigning some kind of blame of the failure that transpired on them rather than on my own shortcomings.
The ethics of competing in other forms of human interaction are even more gray. What of the advantages of one company over it’s rivals? Of a warring state over it’s enemies? Residents and their neighbors? Much of what is the code of laws is based on the conception that there must be some restiction to the way people and other entities interact. The codex defines for us some advnatages that are allowable and legaly acceptable, while other paractices that are wholly unethical, or even criminal.
If someone was to open a business, say , a manufactury for collecting the secretions of the angler- newts and attempt to cater for the growing market of their galndular secretions.
It is certain, that having an expertiese in the entrappment of angler-newts and the careful milking of their glands, would be starkly advantageous over those who have never attempted such a feat. This advantage will be an objective one. It shall be counted in liters of ooze and possibly in severed limbs. Having experience in the field for many years of slithering in the lower reaches of the swamp, I shall be one of those who draw upon such an advnatage. I shall not restrain myself, nor disrupt the efforts of others, and yet probably succeed more than others in this venture. You might question the ethics of the obtainment or the usage of such a dangerous substance, but can not doubt the fact that possessing knowledge and experience, and a tolarnce to radioctivity is an advantage in this neich market.
This advantage, would be an unfair advantage , if during my endeavour i will flood the nesting sited with the bottom tar, leaving my competitors stuck and at the mercy of the enraged, revently-milked newts. that would be unfair of me, and possibly even homicidal. here unfair advantage and criminality are in overlap.
i shall conclude by reminding participants that words are not meaningful within themselves. their importance draws upon the field of definitions , connotation and representations that hide behind them, and deep within our minds.