Sandhya Acharya: Raising a Good Loser

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Sandhya Acharya contemplates being a good loser – on the playground and in politics.

Some time back, I was witness to a kids' plank showdown. Timers were set, poses struck, seconds counted. But when it came time to declare the winner, a chorus of voices, including my son's, broke out into complaints. "My jacket slowed me down!" "He moved!" "I wasn't ready!" I watched from the sidelines, cringing. A question troubled me. Are we raising good losers?

On Jan 6, 2021, we saw the damage a bad loser could do. Trump lost the 2020 election. He didn't like losing. He made many accusations, but they were all disproven with facts. Then he incited his supporters, who turned into an angry mob that desecrated the Capitol, a historic symbol of American democracy. Five people died.

Ironically, at the same time, we also saw the culmination of what a good loser could do in the 2020 Georgia elections. In 2018, Stacey Abrams lost the gubernatorial election in Georgia. She didn't like losing. She raised many issues and supported them with facts and figures. Then she energized people to participate in democracy, to vote. In the 2020 elections, millions more voted. Georgia flipped blue.

As Americans, we may be divided on many issues, but, surely, we can be united in how we deal with them - with truth, decency, and due democratic process. And as parents, we may push our kids to compete, to win, but surely, we can also teach them to be humble, to listen and celebrate life - not just wins. Let's raise neither good losers nor good winners, but good humans.

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Then again, maybe this reminder is more for us adults. Even as I prepared my thoughts, the group of kids that day had reached compromises, strengthened rules, and moved on to the next game. There were no complaints or accusations, just the sound of sweet, innocent laughter.

With a Perspective, I’m Sandhya  Acharya.

Sandhya Acharya is an author of children’s books.