The Rat Race – The trappings of an ending pursuit

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Politicians have a way of giving you hope. It is as if they listened to the master lessons Grandpa told me while I lived with him in my teen years. One day, Mzee Atanansi Komunjara, my illustrious maternal grandfather, heard me grumbling about adding water to the meat, as we re-warmed it a fourth time. He said, “When you don’t have enough money, do not finish the sauce. You can easily find something to eat when you have the sauce.” And he added, “When you have sauce, it gives you the confidence to make promises. You want to give hope to people around you all the time so that you don’t lose them.”

It took several years later to fully understand the brilliance of giving hope. When I had just married, I managed to keep my family in hopes. I would tell my wife “Once I complete my professional accountancy course, I have been promised a job in a bank.” Hope is the fuel you need to keep moving. And politicians are masters of this game: the parish development model (cash for every homestead). Boona bagagawale (wealth for all). Boona basome (free education for all.) etc.

And this brings me to the rat race of life about human behaviour and leadership dynamics. Dr John Calhoun, a visionary in the field of behavioural psychology, conducted an experiment that unraveled the concept of the “rat race” and explains modern society well.

In a laboratory, Calhoun constructed a microcosm of urban life, a miniaturized cityscape known as the “Behavioral Sink.” In this maze, a population of rats was granted every material comfort – an abundance of food, water, nesting areas, and ample space for social interaction. The initial phase was marked by a cordial coexistence, as the rats formed social hierarchies and exhibited behaviors akin to a thriving suburban community.

However, as time went by, something started to happen. The rat population grew at an exponential rate, mirroring the rapid expansion of modern urban centres. As the corridors of the Behavioral Sink became increasingly crowded, a shift occurred that bore a striking resemblance to the relentless pursuit of success often witnessed in human society.

The phenomenon known as the “rat race” emerged. Within the confined spaces, the rats began to exhibit signs of distress and behavioral aberrations. Social structures, once robust, deteriorated under the pressure of overcrowding. The rats engaged in aggression and territorial disputes over the limited resources available. Anxiety and violence spread like wildfire, casting a shadow over the once-idyllic setting.

Leadership, a concept central to human society, also faced a trial within the Behavioral Sink. As the population swelled, the established leaders struggled to maintain order and cohesion. New leadership roles arose, often characterized by authoritarian tendencies that sought to assert control amidst the chaos. Yet even these emergent leaders were ensnared in the unending cycle of competition and conflict.

The rat race, a poignant metaphor, served as a cautionary tale for the human experience. It illuminated the pitfalls of unchecked growth, the degradation of social bonds under the weight of ambition, and the erosion of leadership within an environment defined by relentless pursuit. The Behavioral Sink underscored the necessity for leaders to navigate the delicate balance between progress and well-being, lest they find themselves entrapped in a cycle devoid of meaning and fulfillment.

In the wake of this experiment, as the corridors of the Behavioral Sink grew dim, a message resonated through the annals of scientific inquiry. The rat race, a mirror held up to society’s ceaseless quest for more, implored leaders to prioritize the cultivation of thriving communities over the trappings of unending competition. It stood as a testament to the wisdom that true leadership encompasses not just progress, but the sustenance of the human spirit and the nurturing of harmonious coexistence.

The politicians make the countries they lead a maze, and let the people compete on every level in the capitalistic set-up. What the political leaders lack, they can easily print money to solve, as the rest of the “rats” continue fighting for territory, material acquisition, and survival day in and day out.

For some reason, people cannot wake up from this daze to stop the competition and focus on collaboration. They want to be the ones driving the latest car, owners of the biggest house, and the folks with the best material things. Such a state is not possible, hence the rat race.

Are you a victim of the rat race?

Copyright Mr Strategy 2023. All rights reserved.

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