Friday, February 20, 2009

I Was So Sure I Won...

Have you ever had those moments where you fought so hard to win something but in the end, you lost so much more than you gained? Those moments where we were so sure we won, so why aren't we feeling as excited as we should? The times we felt satisfied for 2 seconds but dejected the next 2 years?

You, my friends, have experienced a Pyrrhic Victory

Let me take you back in time for a little History lesson (and I solemnly promise that this is actually interesting)

The battle lines were drawn. 40, 000 Greeks vs. 40, 000 Romans. King Pyrrhus had his sights set on Rome, and no one was going to stand in his way. He'd brought cavalry, archers, and even war elephants with him. His track record was nearly flawless. Surely the Roman Empire would fall. But after several days of fierce combat, it still wasn't clear who would win. Both sides suffered major casualties, and it looked like a stalemate.

Then at last the Greeks managed to prevail. Their elephants broke through the enemy line, the Romans were driven back, and Pyrrhus won his battle. Unfortunately, his army was now incredibly weak. He was far from home and couldn't gather reinforcements quickly. The enemy could. When a comrade congratulated him on his win, Pyrrhus responded, "One more such victory and I am lost." He never did conquer Rome.


Sometimes the cost of winning is so great that we lose more than we can gain. I guess one of the main ways this is showcased is in our interpersonal relationships. How many times have we lost friendships just to guard our pride? For the sake of winning an argument, we steamroll pass our friends. Sure, we win the quarrel, at the price of the friendship.

I've had countless encounters such as these. Looking back, I wished I had stopped to think about the long term consequences instead of trying to emerge the 'winner'. Whether I was fighting to dominate, to save face, to retaliate, to boost self-esteem or just for the sake of fighting, I lost more than what it's worth winning. I wished I had the courage to be the bigger person and let it go.

But of course, we have learn from our mistakes (well, we should unless you like seeing history repeat itself). I guess before we rush headlong into a heated argument, we should pause to ask, is this issue worth debating? What do I hope to accomplish by winning anyway? What kind of consequence will this result in our relationship? And the best one, why do I want to win so badly?

I don't want to succumb to pride and be unable to take the high road. I hope and pray I'll never reach the point where I see backing down as a sign of weakness. Because if you think about it, only the strong will dare admit they're wrong.