Paulo Coelho

Stories & Reflections

The Winner Stands Alone : My comments on the book by Paulo Coelho

Author: Paulo Coelho


One of the recurrent themes of my books is the importance of paying the price of your dreams. But to what extent can our dreams be manipulated? For the past decades, we lived in a culture that privileged fame, money, power – and most of the people were led to believe that these were the real values that we should pursue.

We all should be a “winner”. Not in the sense of someone who finally wins what is important to his/her life. Not in the sense that happiness is the most valuable gift on Earth – and it can be attained here and now, when your work fulfills your heart. We should be a winner in the sense that the system portraits a successful person: celebrity, influence, photos in glossy magazines, behaving like the masters of the universe.

Yes, you may reach the goal society has fed you – but will you be satisfied? Will you be whole? Will you be in peace? This cycle of possession never ends – because the moment that you think that you have reached your goal another desire creeps in. And how can you find rest when it is the hunt that moves you?

While people are connected – omniscient thanks to their mobile phones and GPS – they all speak the same words, fight for the same goals, and crave the same things. How could it be otherwise? If fashion exists it is precisely because you can mold the desire of the masses – or how else could a bag, a dress impose itself as necessary?

In a world of invisible yet unsurpassable “diktats”, where a few puppeteers pull the strings of the many, instill in other people’s dreams the pursue of superficial things, there seems to be a rising feeling, a silent despair that creeps in.

Greed to have, greed to be seen, greed to prevail, even greed to kill, if you think it is for a good cause – like love, for example.

What we don’t know is that, behind the scenes, the real manipulators remain anonymous. They understand that the most effective power is the one that nobody can notice – until it is too late, and you a trapped. This book is about this trap.

Soon after I finished writing “The winner stands alone”, the financial market collapsed. Will this lead us again to the real values? I really don’t know. What I do know is that we cannot continue to allow our dreams to be manipulated like they are as for three of the four main characters in the book:

Igor, a Russian millionaire, who believes that you can kill if you have a good reason for that – like avoiding human suffering, or bringing back the attention the woman he loves.

Hamid, a fashion magnate, who started with good intentions, till he got caught by the very system he was trying to use.

Gabriela, who – like most of the people today – is convinced that fame is an end by itself, the supreme reward in a world that praises ccelebrity as the supreme achievement in life.

As I finish writing these pages, there are currently several dictators in power. One country in the Middle East has been invaded by the world’s only superpower. Support for terrorist groups is growing. Fundamentalist Christians have the ability to elect presidents. The spiritual search is manipulated by various sects each claiming to possess ‘absolute knowledge’. Whole cities are wiped from the map by Nature’s fury. According to research carried out by a reputable American intellectual, all the world’s power rests in the hands of six thousand people.

There are thousands of prisoners of conscience on every continent. Torture is once again deemed acceptable as an interrogation method. The wealthier nations are closing their borders. The poorer nations are witnessing an unprecedented exodus as their inhabitants leave in search of El Dorado. Genocide continues to be committed in at least two African countries. The economic system is showing signs of break-down, and great fortunes are beginning to collapse. Child slavery has become a constant. Hundreds of millions of people live below the poverty line. Nuclear proliferation is accepted as irreversible. New diseases emerge. The old diseases have not yet been brought under control.

But is this a portrait of the world I live in?

Of course not. When I decided to take a snapshot of my own times, I wrote this book.

So please join me in this journey into a world that is coming to an end. You will see glittery, glamour, and blood – but don’t see this book as a thriller: it is a crude portrait of where we are now. We are part of the solution, if we go back to the real values of life, being “follow your dream” the most important of all. Not the dreams of the Superclass. Not the dreams of our parents, or our partners. We should be what we always wanted to be.

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