Darwin’s theory has been interpreted as the survival of the fittest, but scientists are now questioning this.
Survival of the most cooperative is what many deep thinkers and educators now believe to be the core impetus of evolution, rather than through domination over others.
At a seminar I attended several years ago Gregg Braden, scientist, visionary and well known author, asked the audience what percentage of competition was the healthiest way to live.
Answers ranged from 10% to 40 or 50%. He answered by raising his hand with thumb and forefinger touching, indicating 0% competition is the healthiest way to live!
That was a shocker for the crowd. Gregg Braden supported his theory by presenting much scientific and historical data.
How did we get here? And what will help us to move forward?
Organizational consultants, educators, authors Margaret J. Wheatley and Myron Kellner-Rogers, state in their book A Simpler Way that the world has evolved through cooperation rather than domination and struggle.
“As we look at life through the systems of organization it loves to create, we see a world that cannot be understood well through the lens of struggle and competition……Life seeks systems so that more may flourish. Life is in the business of creating more life..…..Life creates niches not to dominate, but to support. Symbiosis is the most favored path for evolution.”
Pg 42 A Simpler Way
“Modern Darwinists observe that living systems cannot be explained by competition. Destructive species may come and go, but cooperation itself increases through time.”
Pg 43 A Simpler Way
Symbiosis in biology: ‘the living together of two dissimilar organisms.’
Symbiosis occurs when two people can harmoniously agree to disagree, thereby freeing themselves from insisting in their “rightness,” and instead use their creative energy to discover the best solution for everyone.
John Nash (A Beautiful Mind, movie and book) received a Nobel Prize for his game theory, known as The Nash Equilibrium, which replaced previously held views by noted expert in the field of ethics and economics, Adam Smith, who believed it was every man for himself.
Adam Smith stated in the The Wealth of Nations that capitalism based on individual self-interest would achieve the greatest good for all.
John Nash turned this theory on its head by proving that the best outcome is reached when what is best for the group and for the individual occurs together.
John Nash scientifically proved that cooperation brings forth the best results—not competition. This is the highest game—the game of life!
So, each of us needs to check our cooperation skills. Do we get mad and take our playthings home when things don’t go our way? Do we shut people out of our heart when we get offended?
How do we act when we get hurt or don’t agree?
A three year old has a temper tantrum when they’re not getting their way, for they haven’t yet developed the skill of cooperation. Are we acting in a similar manner when people don’t say and do what we want and think is right?
What comes out of our mouth?
Teenagers often erupt in anger or sulk and go off by themselves when they are upset. Do we also storm out?
If we truly desire a more harmonious and happy life, we need to find a more cooperative way, new systems of responding.
This requires exploring our motives for our words and actions on a continual basis. What belief underlies our behavior?
We are either helping or hindering healthy relationships. By paying attention to and investigating our thoughts and emotions we can make new choices.
Our happiness or unhappiness comes from our own actions, our interpretation of what is going on, not from outer events.
Old conditioning tells us it’s what the other person did that causes us to act the way we did.
If so, we are victims. And I don’t believe God’s image and likeness (out of which we are created. Gen. 1:27) would involve victimhood, for God is not a victim.
It’s all in how we see—the lens through which we view the world that causes it to look the way it does. It is our attitude that motivates and fuels our reactions and responses, not the event.
Do we see life as a struggle? Do we think we have to fight to be heard? If so, competition will seem necessary.
Or do we see the events of life as something we can work with—cooperate with? Are we committed to search for the best solution for everyone?
I see each of us as a hero, facing difficulties and obstacles through which we develop strength and wisdom causing us to thrive, not just survive.
When we desire to cooperate and work with our feelings we will cultivate patience and mindfulness. Through finding a way to connect with others even when we don’t agree we can all move forward.
We’re human, each of us born of stardust. And we all face numerous challenges daily. We can help one another rather than compete.
We can look for ways to cooperate that will benefit ourselves and each other. It isn’t either/or.
As we give up harsh and subtle ways of trying to win, to be right, to look successful, we will find a stream of awareness within that guides us into new responses.
We can be still. Listen—spend time in the silence watching what our mind is doing. We can hold our “states of pain” with compassion.
Compassion is truly cooperative. It does not compete.
Be a scientist in your life by testing this theory. Don’t take anyone’s word for it, certainly not mine.
Scientists methodically write things down, recording all the particulars.
For the next three months each time you feel upset or disappointed, seek a way to cooperate with that which is highest and best—instead of getting angry or running away—and keep a record of your thoughts, actions and outcomes.
You’ll discover if you are truly seeking cooperation, and whether it brings greater feelings of satisfaction.
It probably will add to your humility quotient, too!