More and more lately I am hearing the phrase “It’s a win-win situation”. That phrase drives me nuts and I will tell you why. It ain’t natural, that’s why. It was something invented in the eighties by the soccer moms and the “Generation X” people. No longer was it necessary to have winner and a loser because everybody is supposedly a winner and everyone goes home with a trophy or a certificate of achievement or at the very least a “certificate” of attendance. I have actually been at a government sponsored conference where everyone who registered received a certificate that stated they had undergone ten hours of training in the identification and proper disposal of hazardous materials. That was in spite of the fact that about sixty percent of the people who registered for the conference never attended the training sessions but were either too hung over from the night before to attend the sessions or were out shopping, touring, or playing golf. The only meetings that were well attended were the hospitality cocktail parties in the evening that were mainly a warm up for bar hopping sessions later on. A “win-win situation” is just another way of saying a “bunch of losers” or at the very least, a “ceasing of hostilities”. The Korean War Armistice was a “ceasing of hostilities” and we all know what happened with that one. We didn’t want to win and so we lost…and are still “lost” more than fifty years later. A “win-win situation” is like a “tie” and a “tie”, according to a quote attributed to Michigan State University head coach Duffy Daugherty, “is like kissing your sister.”
Everything in this life is a struggle to win. The struggle from the lowly amoeba striving to become man floats down to us through history on a river of blood…the survival of the fittest. When was it announced that the lion has finally lain down with the lamb without eating it? As the poet Douglas Malloch once put it “The tree that never had to fight for sun, and sky, and air, and light, never became a forest king but lived and dies a scrubby thing. Whenever I hear that something is “win-win” it makes me shudder because I know that somebody is either losing and won’t admit it or they have had the wool pulled over their eyes. Give me a clear winner and a clear loser every time. I say “All hail to the winner” and “Better luck next time” to the loser.