Competition and Cooperation
Competition or cooperation. Evidence (and common sense) reveals that it’s not an either-or proposition. But the competition side of the equation, embraced and implemented for the wrong reason, can be imminently destructive.
Competition built around me-and-myself, or us-and-ourselves, has caused untold misery in the world. Whether the underlying force is greed, pride, prejudice, poor self-esteem, or whatever, the operative principle is: I win, you lose. And all too often, historically, the winners care nothing for the losers. Often, the only thing that matters to the competitor is winning . . . land, money, adulation, or political power.
The current movie Hostiles provides a snapshot of this mechanism. Europeans landed on the eastern shores of what is today the U.S. and moved westward in ever-growing hoards. Out-numbering and out-gunning the native inhabitants, they “won the west” by dint of power and false promises. In competition for territory and the wealth it held, the European invaders won; the indigenous inhabitants lost. Big time.
Imagine how differently things would have played out if the immigrants from the east would have had a genuine and fair-minded concern for sharing the land and respecting the rights and cultural traditions of those who had been there for thousands of years before the first Caucasian set foot on the eastern seaboard. Imagine if cooperation had been the operative mindset, and any competitive spirit had been focused on honoring one another and working for the other’s well-being.
Competition is indeed a motivating emotion. The key is: upon what is the competition focused? As one ancient holy book puts it: “Outdo one another in showing love.” Call it what you will – competitive cooperation, or cooperative competition. It is the attitude that makes a better world for all.