It’s a world turning the wrong way

Sonali Kudva

It is a changing world.

That is what I immediately thought when I learned of President Barack Obama receiving the Nobel Peace Prize.

And no, this is not a clever play on words integrating Obama’s “change” campaign slogan. This is not even a rant on whether or not he deserved the Nobel Prize. This is, instead, a lament of the signs of today.

When children participate in competitions these days, each child goes home with a prize, whether they won or lost. It is their efforts that are recognized, not their actions that are being rewarded.

I believe this undermines the life lessons that winning and losing teaches each one of us.

Winning a competition, a race or overcoming a hurdle is difficult. But it is the goal that is the main reward. Recognition for achieving that goal is a bonus for anyone who has put heart and soul and achieved something after a long struggle.

Yet, in an age of instant gratification, rewards are not rewards anymore. They are given prematurely, in encouragement for the effort an individual is putting into achieving a particular goal.

We say someone has potential. Should we usually reward the potential that a person has, or should we in fact reward them when they realize that potential?

As children, rewards are rewards. We do not think too deeply about the reasons for them. But as adults, surely we ought to know their true meaning.

In a changing world, we become impatient when the Internet connection doesn’t load a Web page fast enough for us, taking a few seconds longer than it should. We avoid queues and use online banking. We throw something into the microwave to save time cooking it on a stove. We do not appreciate the rewards that are hard won, which come after patiently waiting for something to come into its own.

Premature rewards are like bribes. They entice one to pursue another reward and then another. They detract from the main goal. They are like pleasant windfalls that subtract from the acute pleasure that form the achievement of the main goal.

Some of the current economic crises could perhaps even have been averted if rewards had not been awarded to certain parties prematurely.

Efforts should be recognized whether the goal is achieved or not. However, the reward for the attainment of a goal and the recognition of the effort toward achieving that goal should come after the final outcome of winning or losing. Life is full of wins and losses. I think this is a lesson we all should learn and know.

A change has come, but somehow it is not to my liking.

Let me know what you think.

Sonali Kudva is a graduate journalism student and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].