I believe that cooperation, not individualism, will be vital for the survival of our home called ‘earth’, and its millions of specialized species including ourselves. Hold that thought.
I was born in 1922 into a remote part of rural western Canada and was raised on a farm in the rainless era of the 1930s Great Depression. Independence, NOT individualism, was a gut level requirement for survival. However, just living brought with it full awareness that an overwhelming list of personally unsolvable needs existed that could only be remedied successfully by the cooperation of family, friends or community. The mutuality of need, called for a mutuality of action — cooperation. As the youngest of five brothers, I grew into a family where helping each other was an unquestioned, obvious, automatic solution to problem solving. That family relationship permeated our community. The fact that families came in in numbers as small as one, meant that neighbors in times of dire need turned to each other for help in the form of ‘bees’ of cooperation. When needed, there were planting bees, harvesting bees, house and barn building bees, sawing fire wood bees, sewing bees, etc.
Rain deprived gardens, and shriveled crops of grain, meant minimal produce, which combining with the world wide Great Depression, in turn brought family income to below starvation levels.
There was no electricity or running water in any case. The hot dry summers and the frigidly cold winters persisted. With minimal prices for grain, beef, pork, chickens, garden produce etc., local businesses, schools, and communities bankrupted, leading to the same thing at regional and national levels. Most distressing was the personal need for adequate clothing, adequate food, education and medical care. Tax revenue inevitably collapsed. There was no Medicare, Social Security, Unemployment Insurance, Workmen’s Compensation, pensions, etc.
When it became evident that the feeble attempts of the government and the traditional political parties were futile in resuscitating the economy, the resulting hopelessness and despair triggered political change. The previous local cooperative efforts surfaced in a major way. The political party, the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (CCF), formed in 1932, swept into power in 1944 when my home province of
Saskatchewan voted for North America’s first Democratic Socialist government. Saskatchewan breathed a collective sigh of relief. They knew everyone was “in it” cooperatively. The wonderful feeling of ‘WE’ dispelled everyone’s gloomy despair. The basic needs of ALL of the people were soon addressed, starting with the one-payer medical plan. The cooperative concept meant that through their taxes, ALL people paid for medical coverage for ALL of the people. EVERYONE was covered. Seventy-four years later, the voters of all of Canada still approve that plan.
The informal spirit of cooperating with each other is present in many organizations, between states, between countries etc. The League of Nations and the United Nations were predicated on a spirit of that cooperation, but have failed to deliver peace. My history professor, Mr. Elliot, in 1946, accurately predicted that the newly founded U.N. would fail its primary purpose of war prevention because it:
1.- provided the 5 permanent members of the Security Council (the strongest countries of 1945 — USA, China, France, Russia and Great Britain) with the right to veto any action they deemed against their national interest. This, regardless of the wishes of the other (currently) over-190 countries. (Special power for only 5 nations).
2 – and it. was not provided with a strong enough military force to intervene to control nations in any event. The 7-year Syrian conflict is a classical example where both Russia and China have vetoed attempts to end the conflict.
The Charter of the U.N. is NOT a fully cooperative document. At some future time, it MUST be amended or rewritten. The global (ALL nations included) (meticulously cooperative) amended, guiding document, must be reformulated. The guiding ‘constitution’ of the world will then reflect the prime wisdom of the world’s population.
Individualism will still shine, but as part of the cooperative nature of humans moving to solve its minute and global conundrums. Only then, will we gain that warming sense of global ‘WE’.
Charles S. Seeley, 1960 in Modern Materialism wrote, “Only by cooperation can man solve his chief world problems. Eventually everyone will understand that cooperation is more advantageous than competition for the individual as well as for the group.”