Cooperation helps us solve problems – big, wicked problems, but day to day problems too. In our personal lives, at work, in our communities. To cooperate, we must work with others, and often, most successfully in terms of the grand transformations we need, with people who are different.
We don’t get far in life without cooperation. Human society is founded on it. We cooperate with people around us - our partners, families, communities, colleagues – to live. Cooperation requires that we come together to resolve disagreements, to solve problems, to fathom how to move forward on challenging issues. It requires us to speak and interact with others, often people we disagree with, sometimes people we hate, people who have harmed us. It isn’t easy to cooperate, but when we don’t, we go backwards because the world is moving fast and cooperation is essential to keeping pace, to keeping ahead of challenges.
There’s a lot of anger in the world right now. We're not doing so well at cooperating.
There’s judgement, indignation, shouting, mocking, nasty attacks, even violence; often fuelled by media that elevates those yelling to hero status. We’ve formed tribes that shout together and carry out unhappy and unhelpful ‘warfare’ against 'the other' in the hope that their tribe triumphs, that they win the day, this day. Looking further forward to where we might be in the future seems to have become less important.
Who is this ‘other?’
It’s people, just like you and me though our tribal behaviour promotes differences over what’s common amongst us. It’s the planet too and all the species that live here.
Mega challenges like poverty, racism, inequity, climate change, pollution and mass species extinctions race away, out of control while we bicker, shout, and strive for small advantages, small victories, so often for ourselves rather than for the larger good. We're hurting ourselves, people, and the planet.
These are all seriously wicked problems. They’re constantly in flux, changing. Just keeping pace with them is super hard, but getting in front of them, to make a difference, to improve the state of things, requires cooperation.
In the face of all this anger, shouting and warfare, how do we get to cooperation?