Winner. Loser. No matter the context, each of those words packs a powerful punch.
Anyone who has ever watched the Olympics can attest to the universal nature of human competition. When we hear the word “compete,” athletes probably come to mind first, but it’s equally true that politicians compete with each other for elected offices and businesses compete for customers.
In its larger context, is failure always bad or does it sometimes drive innovation? Does the need to compete help us discover hidden passion?
The Spirit of Competition exhibit, coming to the Kokomo-Howard County Public Library’s main branch beginning Monday, will invite you to think about and interact with these concepts.
Created by Indiana Humanities, the exhibit features thought-provoking glimpses into the lives of Hoosiers who competed in various settings and range from famous to obscure. Visitors will have the chance to view short films or even climb on a bike or stage a debate. Competition is all around us, and we experience it in a variety of venues throughout our lives, yet I expect that most of us have given it very little thought. This exhibit will help us to examine one of those “invisible” concepts that we take for granted.
That chance to think more deeply, to interact over ideas, to have one’s interest piqued, is precisely where this exhibit intersects with what the public library is all about. If you ever took a course in psychology, there’s a good chance you ran into Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. The basic concept is that for people to reach their full potential, there is a pyramid-shaped set of needs through which they progress as needs are met.
First we need food, clothing and shelter, but to become truly fulfilled we need opportunities for higher-level activities, including problem-solving and creativity.
The library’s role is to help meet those needs, and the Spirit of Competition is a tool we are offering to you. When you visit it, you will come up with your own opinions, ideas and aspirations, and we hope you will share them with those around you.
Any parent who has ever struggled to elicit a response from his or her teenager other than “whatever” or an eye roll knows the value of true conversation, and the exhibit offers a plethora of conversational jumping-off points. Whether you check out the exhibit with a family member or friend or simply strike up a conversation with a nearby stranger, we are sure you will continue to mull over the ideas it introduces.
Take advantage of this opportunity to spark new ideas or to feed your inner competitor by dropping by the main branch library at 220 N. Union St. The Spirit of Competition will be available from July 1 through July 24 from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
Faith Brautigam is director of the Kokomo-Howard County Public Library.