Popeye, my beloved dog, needs very few things to be happy: food, a bone, an occasional petting, a walk in the park three times a day and that’s it. He is happy and has no further demands. And with such modest needs he doesn’t even need me, he is certainly capable of fulfilling them on his own if someday he finds himself on the street.
Cooperation with the environment is a condition for feeling satisfaction
Cooperation is a condition for good relationships
Cooperation is a condition for success in any field.
Whereas I need a whole army of people helping me fulfill my most basic needs: doctors, computer manufacturers, air-conditioner installers, washing machine technicians, house maids, officers, soldiers, accountants, lawyers, teachers, writers, philosophers, friends, partners, children, instructors, shoemakers, tailors, hairdressers, bakers, farmers, artists.
And this is far from ending because I couldn’t handle without the electric company, municipal authority, government, gas stops, shops, banks and restaurants and television and educational frameworks. And actually why should I say more, I need the whole world to provide myself.
So if Popeye can fulfill his own needs to survive, and I need the whole world, what does that say about me and what does that say about him? It says about us only one thing: that his needs are minimal and mine are infinite, and that is why he can take care of himself and I need the whole world.
It means he only needs a bone here and a petting there, but I also have to answer spiritual, intellectual, social, cultural and developmental needs. It means he wants to sleep all day long and I want to learn and to know and to discover and to evolve and innovate, and I want to express my skills and tendencies, I want to leave my mark, and I want to make friends, to love, help people, cook for my family, travel the world and many more things.
In order for Popeye to live alone he only needs to find the nearest garbage can, and so I can live alone, I have to grow my own food, build my own house, manufacture my own appliances, get a transportation to move from one place to the other, write all the books I would like to read, teach myself everything I would like to know. All that and much more, I would have to do completely by myself.
So although I was luckily blessed with intelligence, all my logical, analytical and creative thinking tools would not be enough for me to provide myself a human existence. I need something else Popeye does not need at all: I need cooperation with all the people in this world, whether directly or so remotely we won’t even feel it.
Cooperation does not begin with joint action. Cooperation begins in understanding we are all here for one another, and that we are all connected to each other in reciprocal dependence which cannot be disconnected. Cooperation begins by using our forebrain, that special mental mechanism only humans have, which provides us integrative approaches to enable social belonging, arranging joint systems and brotherhood between people.
Cooperation with your surroundings is not a luxury but a matter of survival. And if so many people among us can’t find happiness and satisfaction in their lives, the reason is they can’t find enough creative and enriching interface points to cooperate with the people surrounding them.
Cooperation is a measure of any healthy relationship: romantic or familial or friendship. Like a basketball team that reaches the League not only because of its stars, but thanks to the team spirit its players share.
We are always in the same boat: descending to the depths together, or reaching a destination together. A boat has no better spot or a worse spot; it only has balance or drowning. And only understanding that cooperation is key to everything in our lives will enable us create a shared reality that each of us will like living in.