A view from anthropology:
The primitive man did not have to think of anything other than his own survival. He was naturally endowed with the mechanisms that would help him reproduce through mating but he also had to fetch food to eat and to feed the little family that relied on him. That was fine until he found other men competing with him for the same prey. Competition was born out of need for survival. With the growth of agriculture, tribes settled in fertile lands. When the resources are not sufficient for all, competition rises. Over millennia, transition took place from the Stone Age, farming and the Agriculture Revolution to the Industrial Age which forced many people to adapt in order to survive. The Information Age today is the most demanding of the human mind as manual work is becoming less required and thinking in abstracts is becoming more demanded. The arrival of robotics and artificial intelligence technology has ushered a new age. Historically too, universities competed to retain the best minds for research. Competition that results in some kind of reward is an incentive of advancing and earning better marks in school, and in jobs, but when competition becomes my preoccupation, I lose my inner peace.
When my tribe or nation conspires with other nations to conquer the land or properties of others, competition becomes rivalry and rivalry leads to greed and, in the end, to destruction. The desire to possess what is not mine at the personal level (even if I do not need it and especially when someone else desires it) has been identified in the "Mimetic Rivalry" Theory discovered by R. Girard. For more information see my lecture about his research here and the Girardian Imitatio. More to the point is the relationship between husband and wife. Who, after marriage, desired at one time another person to be his/her mate? Who of the men actually has approached another woman even if she was already married? Who found out that another rival was having an affair with his wife or her husband but was able to forgive both. Siblings usually desire each other's things. Is this innocent or does it mean that each of them wants to possess the other?
In modern society many factors contributed to its own weakness and eventual dissolution. The rise of radical feminism together with world wars (in which nations lost many men) contributed to the demands that women work in factories and offices. The social scandals of prostitution are common in many cases of violent treatment of women by their men. As a result women demanded independence from men's authority at home with support of the government. The independence of women meant the end of the traditional family. This is only one of many forms that led to rivalry, greed, individualism, and more selfishness.
In business, excessive competition leads to rivalry at a greater scale when smaller firms are swallowed by larger firms or when government imposes its own political agenda on all citizens. The U.S. Liberal Government has imposed legal regulations that facilitate abortion and artificial contraceptives on Catholic hospitals in the U.S. although these regulations are opposed to the Catholic moral conscience.
The globalization of business has created job opportunities for some but also caused job losses to others. Is this the result of technology? Is this the result of rivalry and greed when big firms outsource offshore services in India and China so that they can reduce expenses at home?
Islam and Christianity are particularly rivals in trying to bring more people to their own. In the last few years we have witnessed the spread of violence in almost all countries where Muslims are a majority. The raging war in Syria is a real catastrophe that erupted because of rivalry between two branches of Islam Shiite and Sunni. Of course both America and its rival Russia rushed to increase their influence and opposing interests at the expense of millions of displaced refugees and thousands of dead victims. In his Clash of Civilizations Samuel Huntington warned that Islam remains the greatest threat to the civilized West. But which moral compass does the West have?
Within Christianity, rivalry coupled with jealousy existed since the beginning. The first four Ecumenical Councils testify to rivalry between the Sees of Alexandria, Constantinople, Antioch and probably Rome too. But even within the Catholic Church, rivalries exist. In the aftermath of Vatican II, the French Archbishop Marcel Lefbvre defied the Council's decisions and created a rival Society of St. Pius X He was excommunicated by Pope John Paul II when he ordained bishops in defiance of Canon Law. Pope Benedict XVI attempted to reconcile his followers but they remained in schism.
And I look at my role at the Knights of Columbus. I see myself rival to others who wish to serve the way they perceive service should be delivered. In spite of collaboration, we remain prisoners of ourselves. In the same lecture in which I presented the above ideas, we showed a video of the entrance in the first Mass celebrated by prelates at Supreme Convention of the Knights of Columbus in San Antonio. Here it is:
When asked what things we can do to help alleviate rivalry, one guy said spiritual exercises and another said prayers. Probably we need these and above all to go back to fasting so that we can taste the emptiness and limits of man. We cannot deny the good in serving the others nor the good in moderate competition as long as they remain within the spiritual thirst for God and helping humanity.
May God protect man from himself. Moral values mean taking care of the other even if I am hurt.