There is a myth that the Lion is an animal of great strength that prevails over the weaker animals they pray upon. This is actually not the case. Lions have unusually small hearts in relation to their body size such that they have very little stamina. In order to catch their pray they must be within thirty yards before they begin their run and often give up before catching them. To compensate for this weakness they hunt in packs, working together to encircle animals, seek out the weak, the old and the sick, and then move in together.
Even more surprising is that Lions are mostly scavengers. More than 50% of their diet consists of carrion downed mostly by hyenas. They spend twenty hours of the day sleeping and resting and most of the remainder of the time looking to scavenge off the work of others.
Lions as a Symbol of Strength
Why am I making this point, because we as a society have bought into a false belief that it’s good to be strong and to have the ability to win over the weak. Lions represent a symbol of strength and power to us, and yet while they are strong physically they are weak in other ways.
More to the point, we’ve bought into a belief that nature represents the metaphor of survival of the fittest and the strong prevailing over the weak. Charles Darwin once wrote, “It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”
And so we have mis-interpreted Darwin so as to adapt it to a story that we’ve been telling ourselves that competition and strength are virtues, and collaboration and compassion are weaknesses.
A Different Story of the Lion
Indigenous elders and wisdom keepers from all over have been saying for centuries that nature is a vast storehouse of information. Indigenous cultures look to nature as their source of understanding and wisdom, which is why their cultures are so similar. When we look at nature from the perspective of the false story we’ve been telling ourselves, we see the lion hunting zebra and deem the lion the stronger species. But the lion searching for and hunting only the sick and the weak of the pack speaks a different story.
The lion is not in competition with the zebra. If they were they would wantonly kill as many zebra as they can so as to quickly decimate their herd. Instead they take no more than just what they need to survive, and wherever possible they capitalize on the work of the hyenas. Their nature of hunting only the sick and the old, and taking no more than they need ensures the continued genetic strength of the zebra.
There is Enough for Everyone
If we re-interpret the example of the predatory species of animals and use that as a model for how we exist in the world, we would all become staunch environmentalists and move from an economic system based on competition to one based on collaboration and the notion that there is enough for everyone.
It is time to shed the old story, the myth that we must compete, and embrace the even older story, the story as old as time, that we are all one.
Additional Posts on Competition
Tip of the Week
Imagine for just a moment that the story we’ve been telling ourselves that competition produces efficiencies and motivates people to strive to do more is wrong. Even if you don’t truly believe it’s wrong or are unsure, just assume for a moment that it is. Holding this assumption in your mind, what would take the place of competition? If not competition, what else motivates us. Consider this a thought experiment and just envision. Afterward meditating with this concept if you are still intrigued, consider reading “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us” by Daniel Pink.