“I HOPE HE FAILS.”
That was all the verbiage offered on the bumper sticker on the car in front of me. I tried to discern other stickers, symbols or hints the vehicle might present, but was unsuccessful. I was left to interpret these four words in a vacuum, limited to my intuition and unscientific conclusions.
Was the “HE” a politician? An athlete? An ex-husband, a wayward brother, an estranged son? Who knows. But whomever he is, some driver in the greater Nashville area really wants him to fail. Enough to purchase or customize a bumper sticker to randomly let every other driver know how he or she feels.
I wondered about the mindset of the person whose fingers slapped the sticker onto the car's bumper. Was it a bubbly glee that accompanied this passion for failure? Was it coming from a deep place of hurt or anger? What, exactly, leads a person to strive for another person to lose?
This seems much different than giving your all to compete against someone or something in sports, business, a race for elective office, and so forth. That's how it felt to me as I read the sticker, at least. It felt personal. Bitter. Short-sighted, even.
Martin Luther King Jr. warned that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice anywhere. Spiritual formation leader Richard Foster once said there can be peace for no one until there is peace for everyone. A Jedi Knight in one of the Star Wars films warned one set of a planet's inhabitants that they were symbiotically linked with another nearby, despised population; what impacted one would surely impact the other.
We are inextricably threaded beyond ways we can easily recognize. Whomever this gentleman is, his failure will have implications. Someone will suffer, beyond just himself–and his suffering alone is worth mourning over. Perhaps a business will fail as well. Perhaps a family will be hurting. Perhaps a country's populace will see a reduction in its potential. Whatever the fallout happens to be, no one fails or succeeds in pure isolation. At any age, in any arena.
Better the effort that is directed toward proactively helping others to be successful, giving them tools, ideas and assistance to empower toward serving worthy human endeavors. Spend energy, if you must, defeating unworthy, divisive or hurtful initiatives–but unless the person himself or herself is contemplating or committing immoral, unethical or illegal activities, each moment we spend bitterly focused on an individual's failure is simply a lost opportunity to cultivate our own success.