Cooperation is a broad, thorny subject. We instinctively know that with goodwill and sincerity, people are able to work together to accomplish goals that benefit everyone concerned. One of the biggest problems is that of arriving at a place of broad vision and wisdom to initiate cooperation in the midst of disagreement.
Unfortunately, what passes for cooperation, in many instances, is coerced submission. One nation “cooperates” because the other nation possesses a greater military or nuclear arms. The citizen “cooperates” with the police because the legal word of law gives the police more power than it does to citizens. We learn to submit to threats of power soon after we’re born. Our parents hold great strength and power so we must submit to their authority.
Certainly, submission to authority is useful in keeping civil order and peace. We also need parental guidance when we’re children. However, for order to be maintained and for guidance to be helpful, a healthy balance must occur. Too much coersion leads to resentment and rebellion.
As we are witnessing daily, the more force that police use to apprehend citizens, an equal amount of resentment and disrespect for authority grows against law enforcement and government. The same thing applies to overbearing parents. Instead of fostering submission and “cooperation”, the lack of balance only feeds opposition and more destructive behavior. Society devolves into tyranny. Families become highly dysfunctional.
Like many people, I am deeply troubled by the various crises and problems of our contemporary world. The failure of people to cooperate in working towards a solution to global climate change, is troubling. The escalation of conflict in places like the Middle East and The Ukraine has horrifying implications. More examples of the police over-extending their authority, show a disregard and lack of respect for basic American values.
The desire to always have things our own way is not only immature, it is ultimately very unsatisfying. The hungers for more wealth and power are unquenchable. As greed and lust for power expand, our beloved principles of democracy, fairness, and cooperation wither away. The result is a nightmare of authoritarian plutocracy. Those who possess the cash and influence must selfishly and brutally protect themselves. Everyone else is left to fight over the scraps. Ultimately, few of us, if anybody, is happy or satisfied. The nation experiences more than a mass existential crisis; society begins to break down. This breakdown leads to more grasping of resources and application of force. So it goes, on and on.
All of these problems and many others, are textbook examples of what happens when people fail to cooperate and follow their innate, empathetic instincts. There exists a yawning chasm of negativity that needs to be bridged with great wisdom, broad views, sincerity, and goodwill. We don’t need experts to tell us that we must create new opportunities for peace, mutual benefit, and greater satisfaction for all people. The only means to build this bridge is to use the tools of understanding and cooperation.
You or I can sit back with hindsight and analyze where we have gone wrong, and what should have been done to prevent our present situation. If we’re honest in our assessment, we must admit that nobody is actually independent of other people nor of the world. There has never been an instance of a single individual succeeding or even living by his or her sole efforts. Think about trying to live and succeed only by your own cleverness and toil.
Right off the bat, we must have the Earth and its resources. We absolutely must have air, water, and food. Take any one of these shared resources away, and life halts. Do you generate all of the air you require? Do you distill all the water you need? Do you grow and harvest all of the food to sustain yourself?
It goes with little mention, that if we wish to enjoy friends and close companionship, we must respect their wishes and foster cooperation. If we want to run a business, we must have customers. When that business grows and expands, managers and employees need to be hired. If that business is one of commerce and trade, there needs to be transportation. Roads must be built and maintained. Shipping and air routes must be created and made safe. By thinking about all of this interconnectivity for a few moments, we understand the basic need for cooperation.
Even if you decide to leave society behind and become a hermit, you still need to rely upon the efforts of other people. If there was some miraculous way in which you could actually live on your own, entirely by your own free will and efforts, you’d eventually want to have a friend or companion.
Perhaps you even suppressed the desire for the company of another human or creature, you’d wonder about purpose and meaning. The incredible, self-imposed isolation would soon cultivate psychological problems. This scenario is not only absurd, it’s self-destructive. To have a semblance of happiness, we need other people in our lives.
Ironically, in order to be free, we must have other free individuals. To preserve our freedom and satisfaction, we must cooperate with nature and other people. When a few of us decide not to respect and cooperate with others, everybody soon suffers in some way. If you wish to enjoy freedom and liberty, you must also allow me to enjoy my freedom and liberty. In turn, I must allow your freedom and liberty.
Cooperation and liberty go hand in hand. When the liberty of one group of people is removed, all people’s liberty is also threatened.
I’ve been asked why I am interested so deeply in history. Aside from pure curiosity, history shows me humankind’s emotions and the impact they have had on us, as a whole. When I examine these emotions and their results, I can more clearly understand what has prevented us from sharing and valuing each other. I see what has prevented humanity from creating harmony and cooperation.
I wish that everybody had the deep loathing of war, that I have. History shows me that respect for others is of prime importance. History has demonstrated why civil liberties and civil rights are essential to every society on Earth. Cooperation is at the very heart of the solutions to our problems.
Cooperation is one of the essential, core values of human beings.