The Big Switch

The Big Switch

Competition to Cooperation

Whether U-turns are the flavour of the month remains to be seen. They ought to be the flavour of the decade, even of the century. There are plenty of potential U-turns in the queue, from the United States redefining freedom to Russia redefining property. From autocracy redefining control to persuasion redefining participation. But the biggest redefinition required is the present priority of Competition over Cooperation. Competition has served us well for many years during which we doubled the world’s population size. It is not serving us so well now. Overcrowding (see the recent Daily Paradox on GROWTH), excess speed, too easy communications, underthought education, childish political awareness and significant loss of a personal moral compass have made competition rapacious. We cannot afford that today.

As a very simplistic but rather telling example look at cricket. When the controlling authorities of cricket are required to devote their time to deciding whether a bowler may spit on the ball before it is delivered we have lost the sport and adopted a monster. The term ‘it’s not cricket’ is now seldom used. It should be. A commonsense understanding of the purpose of this or any other sporting game doesn’t need nit-picking controls. It requires players to be an example to their young followers. If they don’t know what that means it is high time they found out.

Competition has brought higher standards of living to masses of people. It is good for our brain to have to try to think more coherently than those around us. I want to be a better mentor-coach than others. They want to be better mentors and coaches than me. That’s good. If my competitiveness becomes crooked, if I use drugs to sharpen my performance, if I cheat the tax man or my clients, I degrade the vocation I have – to help people improve themselves. Worst of all, if I need endless laws, rules, guidelines and controls to make me play straight I am denying the humanity I was given and the conscience I could have developed.

And who suffers most from that? Clients? Society? Competitors? Regulators? Yes, all of those people suffer but none as much as I do. My character is not there for others to admire and praise. It is there for me to live with. I may believe that there are many worldly and other-worldly judges making up their minds about me. It is my right to have such beliefs. The clearest judge of all remains the one I see in the mirror. Knowing who we want to be, and being it, must surely constitute the purpose of our lives. It certainly determines the level of personal happiness we can achieve. And that totally depends on the happiness we bring to others.

Let us not abandon Competition – as if we could, even if we wanted to! Rather, may we balance Competition with Cooperation to help others improve their lot in life. Let us draw the line at imposed regulation before it becomes the liability Zero-Covid has become to China. Let us make up our own minds about the grounds for the abortion of a foetus before the law turns it into an issue of God Vs. People – by definition insoluble if we are merely people. Let us think about the world we want and then work towards making our little bit of it more like what we hope for. Let us ask the only question that matters in a world so divided, so sick and so desperate that it is on the brink of a nuclear war. And the question?

How can I Cooperate to make the world a little better?

I may make only a tiny contribution. But 10,000,000,000 tiny contributions amount to a rescued world.

9,999,999,999 don’t. It’s the last one that matters.

Good morning
John Bittleston

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06 October 2022