I’ve never understood the game of one-upmanship. It’s usually played by extremely insecure people, both men and women, while the rest of us roll our eyes. That’s until it zooms past being irritating and becomes dangerous.
One-upmanship often leads to mindless mouthing off. Nowadays the world can’t afford stupidity anywhere, let alone in leadership that disdains the advice of its own experts and only wants to advance the goals of its own dynasty. Advisors are in place for a reason, usually so that cooler heads can prevail, but they are ignored.
Standing up for oneself or one’s country doesn’t equal escalating vocal threats that will kill hundreds of thousands of people to accomplish that goal. Especially when the inevitable response will mean the loss of hundreds of thousands of your own citizens.
Sabre-rattling can only be taken so far before irreversible mistakes are made. But a damaged brain can’t grasp that belligerent behavior always has its own reward and always hurts the innocent while the intended target usually escapes. Carrying a big stick also requires walking softly.
Where is One-Upmanship Learned?
Since it is juvenile behavior, sometimes kids learn one-upmanship at home, listening to their grandparents or aunts and uncles at family gatherings:
- If one grandpa was bragging about having to walk nine miles through the snow, uphill, to get to school, the other grandpa had done the same but both ways were uphill, so there!
- If Auntie Nona’s scrumptious peach pie always earned second place at the county fair baking contest, Aunt Myrtle’s delectable pecan pie lost because one of her jealous enemies had replaced the sugar with salt.
Just as often, one-upmanship is learned at school:
- Your dad slugged the cable guy? Oh, wow. My dad beat up a cop! (And he gets out in three more years.)
- You went camping this summer? That’s lame. We went to Disney World!
Instead of the individuals growing out of it, one-upmanship goes on and on. Today kids can walk through Walmart, sit in a doctor’s waiting room that has TV on, or be just about anywhere. They don’t even need to have their gadgets with them to hear adults trying to put each other down in public:
- Your book sold 20,000 copies? How nice. Mine actually sold out the first print run completely. (Spoiler alert: the first print run was only 10,000 copies but the other person doesn’t know that.)
- Our quarterback was a third round pick and he’s the best investment we’ve ever made! Ours was seventh round and our ROI is gonna be off the charts!
Mine’s Bigger Than Yours
Unfortunately, even as idiotic as it gets, the one-upmanship doesn’t stop when it should. We currently have two unhinged leaders escalating their sandbox behavior and yelling to a level that could destroy humanity before its time. They are so intent on beating the other guy that hundreds of thousands of lives could be lost in minutes.
If any size nuclear warhead is launched by anybody, countless more victims would suffer a dreadful, drawn-out death from radiation poisoning. Warheads exploding underwater will not prevent that. But that doesn’t matter to megalomaniacs with their individualized delusions of grandeur – usually that of power, but also wealth or fame, even evil genius.
This is no time for stupendous stupidity on the part of so-called leaders. It doesn’t much matter what’s going on or not going on through strange bedfellow, diplomatic channels or so-called backroom bargaining: The front porch flame throwing has to stop.