We frequently hear someone being called a “loser”. Whether it’s meant as a temporary label or a permanent condition, it is a harsh determination and a terrible stigma. Quite often, we hear the homeless and downtrodden labeled as “losers”, which at best seems to be an admission of a lack of concern. Why might this happen?
In the 2005 book by Dr. Scott A. Sandage entitled “Born Losers: A history of failure in America”, we see how the concept of a “loser” has been established, with the fear of failure itself as a propelling drive to succeed. In this discourse, one is also left with the image of the ”successful” person, as well as the need to label some other as a “loser”. Whether or not a truly independent—i.e., successful—person exists is a philosophical question too broad to explore here.
Dr. Sandage also points out that rags-to-riches stories, and the converse—those that tell of riches-to-rags—are both well known phenomena. He speaks of ambition and those who lack it and how our world is predicated on ambition and success. And then there’s the concept of the existence of a vast gap between achievement and one’s identity; many people fall apart after losing success, since their identity was wrapped up in materiality rather than nourished from their own souls.
The 1994 Oliver Stone film “Natural Born Killers” strove to show that some people were inherently killers and enjoyed the ritual of it and in fact, as a modern cautionary fable, how the media plays into the amplification and potential encouragement of such dastardly deeds.
Such a title leads us to the question of whether someone can really be a “naturally born” anything. It alludes to the concept of unchangeable destiny, a thought that seems very hard to bear in our times. Today, we just can’t or don’t want to believe that we’re stuck in a game that’s not of our own design.
So, with all of these questions in mind, are some people natural born losers?
Why even ask? Because people experiencing homelessness and other forms of adversity are consistently being labeled as “losers”. Whether they’re losers from birth until eternity, we don’t know for sure, but the label is both tempting, convenient, and utilitarian—and it hurts.
The trouble is that such a label is likely immoral and unfair to all parties concerned.
The economically disadvantaged and homeless are in many ways freer than most people—spiritual sages have pointed out the ills of material things and of coveting them. The wants of the poor are meager and their aspirations are guarded. The unbridled rich, however, may have no bounds to their aspirations. It’s as though they would do anything to get more and more, no limit defined.
We come to the fork in the road—natural born winners. Who are natural born winners since we hardly know if there are natural born losers? Well, there are hard working people who achieve success and keep it. Is this a natural trait? One isn’t sure. Then there are lucky people who come into a fortune by a quirk of fate and improbable moment, sort of like a lotto card.
Under the microscope of scrutiny, natural born winners appear to be those who have attributes that will help them win in a situation between opposing forces, be it financial or in a sports competition or just simply as a rock climber against the elements of cold stone he’s grappling onto.
In truth, it seems that such natural born anythings are few and far between. The majority seem to swing back and forth from happiness into distress, from richer to poorer, and from sickness into health.
F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote the rich are not like other people. Oddly enough, the very poor are much like the very rich. Both groups are unusually free from most mundane, middle-class cares, the not-so-fine line being that the homeless are frequently objects of scorn and distrust.
It would seem prudent not to label anyone as a natural born loser or winner. Kindness and compassion are traits that are seriously needed in our modern world. And that poor and destitute person might be much freer than the rest of the world that wears expensive clothes and bows to the altar of luxury. The poor and homeless are there to remind us about humility and modesty.