It is not speaking that breaks our silence, but the anxiety to be heard. The words of the proud man impose silence on all others, so that he alone may be heard. The humble man speaks only in order to be spoken to. 100

I want to make an impact on the world. I want to shape the environment I inhabit, control the people and circumstances around me. I want to be in charge.

Life is a win or lose proposition. Everything is a competition. Language is just one more weapon in the on-going battle to exert my will over life. I use words to get my way.

What is it about this win/lose vision that has so much power? Why is competition such a natural default position? Why is humility such foreign territory?

My competitive nature causes my heart to close to beauty, truth and light. It shuts you out of my life. You are simply an obstacle to my mastery over life. I cannot see you for the person you are. I cannot hear your true voice, because I am always poised waiting to find how I can subdue you and gain ground in the battle.

Merton suggests there may be another way. Perhaps it is possible for language to be used in such a way that it brings openness and vulnerability rather than resistance and protection.

Can words be used to create a listening space? Can I speak “only in order to be spoken to”?

I need to let go of my determination to defeat the opposition. I need to allow my vision to be transformed. Life is not a race, a competition or a battle.

Jesus stuck a spoke in the whirling wheel of competition when he declared,

the last will be first, and the first will be last. (Matthew 20:16)

The Jesus way is descent. I come closer to Christ by losing than by winning. There is no competition, no good, better, best in Christ’s kingdom. There is only God at work in my life reaching out to touch the presence of God in your life and in all of creation. This is the end of all competition, the beginning of peace.

What drives my need to compete?

What gift might there be for me that is hidden in losing?