A phrase commonly used for a number of years is win-win. We propose an idea or solution to a client and in an attempt to close the deal we claim it’s a win-win situation, a game theory interaction where all participants can profit.
Zig Ziglar, bestselling author and motivational speaker back in the 1980s and '90s, put it this way: “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.”
But the idea is older than Zig Ziglar, and older than game theorist John von Neumann, who wrote about the subject in the 1940s. It actually is as old as the Old Testament.
It turns out that the prophet Jeremiah actually advised the people of Israel, who had been taken captive by Babylon in the year 605 B.C., to pursue a win-win strategy rather than hunker down and simply await the day they would overthrow their captors, retake their homeland, and reestablish the society they desired, the society they were promised.
The oft-quoted verse, “For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you" … comes from this passage. But it takes on a very different feel when you read what happened before that -- the hard work, the mental adjustment that had to be made first.
Here is how Jeremiah related the full message God had given him to pass on to the people of Israel. We read beginning in Jeremiah 29:5, “Build houses and settle down, plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters, find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there ... Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”
He goes on to tell the people that they should not listen to people with any other message including those who have dreams “you encourage them to have.” Who knew that in Jeremiah's day they also had echo chambers?
I have a lot of friends who believe President Trump was ordained by God to be the president of the United States. I’m sure you have those friends also. If you don’t, you are really missing out on the richness and fullness of having a diverse set of friends. But I digress.
It is not my point to argue with anyone about why Donald Trump won the 2016 election, but suffice to say that while he had a terrible opponent in former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and a large portion of the electorate felt they had been left out of our nation’s economic success, it is also true that a significant percentage of Americans simply felt our nation had strayed, like Israel perhaps, as Jeremiah describes.
While President Trump has not yet conceded defeat and some of his supporters cling to hope that his challenges in a handful of states may find enough errors to flip the election, that prospect is, as Jeremiah described it, a dream brought on by others' encouragement.
The reality is, the election did not go the way President Trump’s followers had hoped, perhaps convinced that it was preordained by God himself.
As expected, social media is rife with comments that indicate they will never accept the situation and are already plotting their plan to be victorious in 2024. And yes, I understand there were/are plenty of people who felt the same way after the 2016 election.
I encourage my Trump-supporting friends to consider the words of Jeremiah; live life, enjoy life, pray for the success of your community, state and nation, even if it isn’t the one you want, the one you prayed for or longed for.
But while we are here, and that may be a short or long time, we can all share in peace and prosperity if we determine to.
Gary Adkisson is publisher of The Bismarck Tribune.
Catch the latest in Opinion
Get opinion pieces, letters and editorials sent directly to your inbox weekly!