Chief Seattle had it right when he spoke about the web of life of which we are all part – not creators but just a part. Meg Wheatley speaks of the competitive world of Western culture in similar fashion. Here’s what I read this morning that strengthens my conviction that collaboration is what we need now.
One of the biggest flaws in our approach to life is the Western belief that competition creates strong and healthy systems. Television screens are filled with images of animals locking horns in battle or ripping apart their prey. It is true that in any living system there are predators and prey, death and destruction. But competition among individuals and species is not the dominant way life works. It is always cooperation that increases over time in a living system. Life becomes stronger and more capable through systems of collaboration and partnering, not through competition.
It helps to read the entire essay about relationship with the earth in which Wheatley makes her argument (turning to one another, pp. 102-111) but the above paragraph is enough to get me thinking of all the bad results of excessive competition in business, sports and the relationships of daily life in our time. In situations of trial (like the present weather systems’ destruction and mass shootings) it is the cooperation of neighbors and charitable groups that helps people to survive physically and emotionally making the difference toward rebuilding their lives.
Meg Wheatley quotes Bill McKibben to reference the shift that I hope we see now as the way to go. See what you think.
The story of the twentieth century was finding out just how big and powerful we were. And it turns out that we’re big and powerful as all get out. The story of the twenty-first century is going to be finding out if we can figure out ways to get smaller or not. To see if we can summon the will, and then the way, to make ourselves somewhat smaller, and try to fit back into this planet.