The Oxford American Dictionary defines passion as being:
- “strong and barely controllable emotion”
- “a state or outburst of such emotion”
- “intense sexual love”
- “an intense desire or enthusiasm for something”
- “a thing arousing enthusiasm”
- “(the Passion) the suffering and death of Jesus (a narrative of this from any of the Gospels or a musical setting of any of these narratives)”
One of the clichés’ often heard during motivational speeches, seminars, events, graduations is something like, “What is your passion? That is your key to success! Go do it!” Nike had a successful ad campaign several years ago with the slogan, “Just do it!”®”. Any competitive event from which a victor is proclaimed has someone attributing the success to the competitors’ passion. A common characteristic for most of humanity is the natural instinct to be the best at something. We want to win! We want to win badly! Why? Because we have passion! The one with the most passion wins!
Passion in some form or the other is the magical ingredient. Skill, ability, talent are only a small part of winning a competition if we have passion!
The first four definitions of passion are about it being an emotion, a feeling. The fifth about something (or someone) that creates a feeling or emotion so again, it’s about our motivation which is often based on a feeling. There’s nothing wrong or sinful about that as long as the emotion doesn’t lead you to do something sinful. What about when your passion to win causes you to cheat?
I am a fan of The Next Great Baker© and The Cake Boss© seen on TLC in the United States. Both are supposed to be reality shows and both center on baking and cake decorating to the extreme. The first features 12 contestants who compete to win the title of The Next Great Baker© and with that comes $100,000 and the opportunity to be employed by Carlos’ Bakery working for The Cake Boss©, among other prizes. This season’s finale was aired last night. Right up until the end I was questioning many things about this season’s shows. Specifically my awareness of my own uncomfortable prick of conscience over of whether or not the two finalists and eventually the winner are contestants whose performances were greatly aided by cheating in one form or the other. Were either truly worthy of the victory?
Gretel Ann needed the victory due to circumstances in her own bakery’s existence and her personal life. The truth is that Gretel Ann’s skills were not as good as other contestants as shown by her sloppy work. Besides Paul I don’t know of another contestant who needed the win more. In time she has the potential to be great, I think. It’s my opinion what stood in her way was her misguided passion to win by frankly, cheating. I heard her expressing she justified actions such as turning up the oven temperatures so that her competitors bakery goods burned, hiding baking sheets so there were not enough to go around as simple good competition. Earlier shows had us viewing her plotting to sabotage her own teams competing product by doing inferior work deliberately. I don’t agree that her passion to win or for cake baking and decorating were keys to her success. Her passionate strategy and actions certainly lacked good “sportsmanship”. Most of all for me it screamed “I can’t win this because of my abilities, my skills, my passion to do my absolute best so I will win it by cheating.”
Ashley, the victor in last night’s show, is very skilled, very passionate and in my view, the possessor of a passion also misguided. It wasn’t as much her method of winning as it was her lack of people skills. She had no tolerance for a particular few contestants’ viewpoints, work or questions. In particular one male contestant, Paul, and she were constantly at each other’s throats and Ashley risked her victory for one last opportunity to let Paul know how much she loathed him. Yet the larger issue for Ashley’s victory was the appearance, from how TLC edited the footage we viewed, that Buddy (The Cake Boss©) favored Ashley above the other’s contestants. For example during one challenge the contestants were blindfolded and told to ice, pipe a border on and create and place a rose on a small round cake. Difficult if you can’t see! Yet Buddy seemed to just stop short of telling Ashley what to do during the competition.
In all the competitor’s defense I don’t think the show truly represented anyone’s personality or “true self” because reality show or not, it was filmed and edited by TLC to be what they wanted it to be. Ratings were a huge consideration and the more drama TLC could make seem to be going on the better the numbers. Sadly, the show is but a small and clear example of what America’s seems to want in their hero’s. Win at all cost. Win for the sake of winning and don’t worry about the causalities left behind you.
Clearly it’s a competition. This means someone wins, someone loses. I got that. I just don’t feel comfortable watching someone win by unfair means. By adding to TLC’s success with the show am I not agreeing with the message of the programs? In my heart Gretel Ann’s sabotages were cheating. Ashley’s lack of self-control and seemingly being favored by the main contests judge were unsportsmanlike behavior and also cheating.
In the Scriptures of the New Testament in John 2:13-17 Jesus responded with passion, with righteous anger because men were selling inferior animals for sacrifice in the temple courtyards and he overturned their tables, driving the men out with a whip. He did not sin in his anger.
As a believer I struggle with my passion on this subject of competition and passions that arise due to it. I think that the adage, “all things in moderation” adeptly applies. Competition, regards of the event, isn’t evil – mankind’s inability to temper their wish to win or for their favored team to win while expecting fair behavior from everyone is where the potential for evil exists.
For myself, I am torn between the enjoyment I have in the creative process and methods of achieving the construction of cakes that are masterpieces of art and in watching others strive to be a part of that with the awareness that the shows have entered that arena of passion gone awry. Do I continue to watch or do I hand the remote over to my husband?
Sadder still, am I more distracted by pondering misguided passion in a TV reality show than in being passionate about Jesus Christ? Shouldn’t the sixth definition for passion be far more important to me than whether or not the winner of a television program contest deserved the victory or not? Wow, I just condemned myself.