Slice of pie

Austin Kleon shared a shot from Booksmart — which sadly I haven’t been able to watch! — and in his words, “If other people have to lose to make you feel like a winner, something is broken — in you, and in the system in which you participate.” He then shared a picture of a passage from Ursula Franklin’s The Ursula Franklin Reader, juxtaposed with a clipping from an article about The President Who Shall Not Be Mentioned, who has the tendency to see things in binary and nothing in between — winner and loser.

…many people are hypnotised by the mentality of zero-sum games. In this mentality, if you want to win, someone else has to lose. If you want to gain, someone else must give something up. It is not difficult to point out the many instances in which this scheme falls down.

[…] We should consciously avoid representing all events as conflicts, and in an either-or framework. There is a great need for us to avoid either-or presentations and images of confrontation, of teams, of winning.

I think about scenarios like this so very often. It reminded me of a conversation I had with one of my nieces. She was about 11 or 12 at the time, at the cusp of adolescence and oily skin and major breakouts. I had stumbled upon a mean comment by (presumably) one of her friends in her Instagram picture, and I had imagined her picking up her phone, typing relentless, this reply (I translated this from Kedahan Malay), “Tak payah kurang ajar. Tak hilang pun habuan hang kalau orang dapat lebih.” (“There’s no need to be mean. You’re not losing your slice of pie if one takes their own.”) I asked my niece what she meant by that — that her friend is not losing her slice of pie? With a bored look and while fiddling with her phone, she answered, “She’s been jealous of anyone being better than her in everything. She needs to know that she’s not losing even if someone else’s winning. We all win if everyone does.”

There was a thread going around last week on Twitter, asking cishet Twitter users of what made them supporters of trans rights. There were so many heartwarming answers, ones that made us momentarily forget of the polarising nature of the discussions on Twitter made possible by its many features. But it was pointed out by Harry Josephine that the answer they is looking for is just very simple, “because my liberation is bound up in yours.” It’s that simple, a reason without any agenda or charitable reason — recognising that everyone regardless of background, ethnicity, sexuality, religion, etc. deserves basic human rights and decency. Life’s not a zero-sum game. In this life, you’re not losing your slice of pie if one takes their own.

Some related, some not:


  • Reading: Finished Valeria Luiselli’s Tell Me How It Ends, and was amazed at how much lessons packed in such a short book. Will write about it soon.
  • Viewing: I… definitely did not watch anything today.
  • Listening: It had been a slow day today, where I let some podcast episodes playing the background. Will possibly pay more attention tomorrow.
  • Food & Drink: It’s been a slow day — not sure if it’s attributed to the ring of fire solar eclipse, but I’m just saying! I’m not sure what I had for meals today, but I definitely had a mug of iced Nescafe.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s