Political and social upheaval across the globe signify that a major paradigm shift is under way. It has become very clear that we are living in accelerated times! Democracy is not without flaw, it is a process that must continue to evolve and adapt in order to address the needs of the day. At the heart of democratic principles is a sense of mutual respect and a desire to cooperate in a way that is best for all. Is the world finally ready to embrace this perennial wisdom?
We are not going to be able to address major issues on the planet divided
Our current system where 51% (the amount needed to win elections) are winners and 49% are losers leaves almost half the population feeling that their voice is not represented. Meanwhile the winning side feels a public mandate to assert their agenda without regard to the losing side. Some people call this style of governing the tyranny of the majority. The “winner takes all” mentality is fine for a sporting event, but it is not an appropriate way to govern. We have a responsibility and the ability to make sure that all voices are heard, while collectively caring for each other, our natural resources, and the planet at large. It is not a game…
Addressing climate change, nuclear contamination, polluted oceans, proliferation of war and more will not be solved so long as a significant amount of people (49%) oppose it strongly. We are being called to engage in a dialogue that invokes mutual respect for the needs of all parties. Non-Violent Communication (NVC), also known as Compassionate Communication is a great tool for achieving this expression of cooperation.
All that has been integrated into NVC has been known for centuries about consciousness, language, communication skills, and use of power that enable us to maintain a perspective of empathy for ourselves and others, even under trying conditions. — Marshall B. Rosenberg, Phd
There’s Another Way
The world is not black and white, so we should not govern it that way. Recent social rumblings in the European Union, starting with Greece and including the recent Brexit referendum are complex. The movement towards globalization that favors the freedom of capital over the needs of people has caused many voices to be muffled. When policies are made by individuals who are disconnected from the people and places they are governing, there will always be social upheaval. We see the two-party system failing in many other parts of the world as well including the United States and Australia. What if your views and needs are not represented by either party but instead fall somewhere in the middle?
Our binary approach of winner/loser is childish and ineffective at meeting the needs of our increasingly technological global society. Our indigenous forbearers who influenced Ben Franklin and America’s Founding Fathers, the Haudenosaunee, understood the importance of a council which allowed diverse perspectives to be heard and incorporated into a shared vision of moving forward as a society. You can learn more about The Great Law of Peace of the Haudenosaunee here.
If you want peace, you don’t talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies. -Desmond Tutu
Can Haters Become Lovers?
Hate is an unpleasant human expression that can be suppressed or expressed, but with the proper tools it can be transmuted and evolved into shared understanding. We see so many news outlets that are ready to simplify social upheaval as racism without doing proper analyses and looking at the bigger picture. Very often hatred is the result of a need that isn’t being met, born of fear, or a deep wound, but it is also an expression of passion even though it is destructive. In America we are seeing a great example of this playing out with the candidacy of Donald Trump. In Europe we see it with immigration and the recent vote for Brexit from EU.
What fear, deep wound, and passion is being expressed in these popular xenophobic movements? What needs are not being met? What economic or environmental conditions are fueling the social instability? Diversity is usually celebrated when everyone has food, shelter, abundance and basic needs taken care of. Racism usually flourishes when scarcity, economic inequality and fear are prevalent. The news media, feeding on the black/white, binary, good/bad oversimplification perpetuates the divide, the ignorance, and the fear.
There is passion underneath hatred, even if it is self-preservation, ignorance, and that passion can erupt in very destructive ways. How do we diffuse this? By listening, and educating each other, by becoming compassionate to our own needs as well as the needs of others. We are all connected by deep emotional experiences that often have no voice in this world. There is always common ground if we choose to meet there. This is called cooperation…
Social Harmony is Impossible When Individuals are Internally Conflicted
We used to use the description multiple personalities until we recognized that all of us have many voices (perspectives) trying to express themselves within us depending on mood, or situation. Today we understand illness as dissociative personality disorder. In other words, when we repress aspects of ourselves, our desires, needs, fears etc. without acknowledging them that is considered a form of mental illness. We are seeing this expressed externally in the world around us and politics is a great reflection of our internal conflict. What does it take to be present, listen, and acknowledge the perspective of those who we disagree with?
As with most things in the world, we are blinded by the cultural lens through which we see things. Once again we are called to start from within and disassemble our inner conflicts. We can change our world view from a debate-oriented competition where a winner takes all into a council which allows for all voices to be heard and respected.
The act of witnessing opposing perspectives within ourselves and within community allows us to see deeper into the emotional needs these feelings/beliefs represent. Making a genuine connection from the heart is one of the most essential and powerful ways to diffuse conflict. This is where spirituality, and self-awareness meets the political process.
The Evolution of Cooperation
Cooperation is a fundamental law of biological evolution. We are a species that has developed through biological evolution, and the result of billions of cells cooperating to optimize life. We are in a process biologically, socially, and politically of evolving towards optimizing life for all. Let us not lose hope!
Though competition has hogged up the spotlight due to the scientific misconceptions inherent in Darwinism, it pales in comparison to cooperation. Dr. Bruce Lipton speaks of this extensively in his work as it is apparent in biological evolution from the smallest organisms all the way up to the most complex. Compassion is an emotional connection whereas cooperation is the ability to work together towards a common goal and create mutually beneficial results. It is possible to set up scenarios that allow for win/win situations, sadly most of our political structures are not set up to accommodate this.
Dictatorship/Monarchy/Oligarchy (1% rule the 99%)
Democracy (51% rule the 49%)
Consensus (100% we cooperate to create a future that is mutually beneficial for all of life)
-The Cooperatist Movement
The Law of Cooperation as coined by Scott Malis is quite simple and states that “What cooperates the most thrives the most.” The exploration into cooperation as a topic of study is fascinating. War and slavery are considered the lowest forms of cooperation because they forced cooperation, yet there is no refuting the potentially creative (or destructive) power of large groups of people working towards a common purpose. The Cooperatist Movement seeks to develop a community of people promoting consensual cooperation towards goals that benefit all involved parties. It is possible to own less and share more to increase personal wealth and well-being!
“The Cooperatist Movement’s mission is to create a movement of consensual cooperation for the betterment of mankind and the Earth. To provide structure, a forum and resources to aid in our conscious evolution using the Law of Cooperation as our directing principle.”
Cooperation is an antidote to corporatist ideology which works toward private gain often at the expense of the general public or the environment. It is also valuable to individual and public health as depression and addiction are often rooted in a sense of isolation and disconnection. The values of cooperation can be applied internally to become less conflicted, externally with your family or community, and also beyond that to include cooperation with our environment.
This expression of living harmoniously is potentially the most beautiful thing that humans can strive towards. We have done a pretty good job at showing ugliness over the centuries with sparks of creative genus from individual artists. Now we are seeing that genius manifest collectively and in time we may understand our whole existence as a conscious act of creative beauty!
Back in the cave man days as humans were just forming, we were in very small clan type groups. Life was a struggle to survive, yet we did have a means of cooperating well together. Over time we formed bigger and bigger clans, tribes, and village communities. Alone we were weak, but as a hunting party we could take out the biggest of animals and we began to dominate. As we formed and cooperated more and more we began to civilize into larger societies, and things like agriculture began and soon after forms of industrial revolution. As millions of us began to cooperate we became cities or countries as vast societies and became a super species. The next step is a cooperative global society that considers the needs of all species and acts as a steward of this precious planet. -Scott Malis
Let’s make something extraordinary with our short time in this world. Perhaps if enough of us begin to embrace the principles of cooperation while developing the capacity to communicate and listen compassionately we could unlock a potential collectively that will transform and heal our broken world. It may seem like an impossible dream or a John Lennon song, but we have unprecedented tools to make this real and we don’t need to imagine anymore. It is time to, as Gandhi stated, be the change we want to see in the world.
**This article was expanded upon in a reflection on Brexit at Uplift that is worth considering in relationship to current political affairs**