Being Human pt. 2 (Competition vs. Cooperation)

The world is filled with competing schools of thought. As a matter of fact, you yourself are a competing school of thought within yourself. You rebuke the things you hold to be false, and accept what closely resembles your philosophy of ‘truth’. Depending on your level of understanding, you may accept or reject some thoughts more readily.

Much of the time, that personal philosophy of yours will reflect that of those around you, since doing so will help you integrate the group to which you wish to belong. This doesn’t mean that those around you are ‘right’, only that they have the same group-think.

Your opinion of those around you and the way you define them will determine how you treat them. For the most part, you will be surrounded by friends and family who will support you and help you. The elements that will propel you in your growth, though, will be your challenges. Whether it comes in the shape of new knowledge, physical hurdles or other people, the expansion of your abilities will rely on your willingness to face these new challenges, and overcome your own limits in the best way you will know how.

Whether in the form of competition in sports, or school, work, as well as daily life, you will be pitting yourself against hurdles, at some level. Opposition is what makes you test your skills and adaptability either on your own or within a group, against a limit. If you want to create better conditions for your overcoming of particular problems, you will join groups who have the same goals, for mutually beneficial results (such as being on a team). This basic coalition versus individualism paradigm is what drives much of the world (and divide it as well). There are coalitions and oppositions in every level of society. What creates cohesiveness is the degree to which these two paradigms are employed. For example, if you play hockey, and you don’t necessarily get along with one of the other players, the level of animosity you might have towards that person will affect the way the team plays together. It all depends on how you balance the needs of the team versus the feelings you have between you.

The same can be said on a much wider scale. The way various segments of society treat each other will affect the outcome of the cohesiveness of the population itself. It all depends on if you put your interests before the teams’ or not. If you decide that your interests come first, then you will do everything in your power to discredit the player you dislike, and may garner some fame for yourself. The long-term effects will be the loss of the team. Remember that you are not alone, even though you are unique.

Much of your life will be spent facing challenges of varying degrees of difficulty. Your imagination will dictate how you will overcome them. The most important part is, of course, the learning process you go through in the attempt. It is not important whether you ‘win’ or ‘lose’, but what lessons you take out of the experience, to aid you in facing the next challenges. I know I make it sound like life is one big competition where you have to continuously struggle for survival. It’s not. These things I describe come naturally enough, in everyday life, and are nothing to be afraid of. For the most part, you won’t even notice them, so automatic reflexes are.

As well, it is the first time you do something that can change the way you do things in the future, since it is through those first reactions that you might base all thought on a subject. I just thought I’d tell you that, as special as first experiences are, they aren’t indicative of future experiences. Every single situation is unique in its own right, and should be considered carefully as such. Generalizations tend to hold you back into familiar thought patterns, which can stop you from seeing every new situation under its true light.

The challenges you face are somewhat like walls, on which you have to deploy whatever means you trust is the best, to get through. Once you have gone through a wall, (whether physical or mental), you will invariably face new walls. Sometimes you will decide what your walls are, like when you play sports, join a debate team, play an instrument or mental exercises. Mostly, they will come out of the blue, as external stimulus from life or other people.

Here is the kicker, though: The greatest opponent you have is yourself. Everyone is always looking for their next challenge and opponents elsewhere, except within themselves. How you see yourself will drive your actions. What you know will help you define your external methods of reaction and the way in which you will implement them. There are many different ways of dealing with your walls and potential opposition. The method you choose, ie: to destroy, circumvent, appease, outwit, befriend, accept, or outperform, demonstrates more about your personal philosophy, than it does about anything else.

The other most important thing to know about ‘opposition’ and knowledge, is that the more you amass of the latter, the less you have of the former. Things are difficult because our lack of knowledge prevents us from solving them creatively, or being frustrated by our lack of understanding. The more knowledge you gain, the less you see things as ‘opposition’, but as ‘opportunity’.

They become less ‘wall’, and more ‘door’.

Many a method has been theorized, philosophized and sanctified. There is no “perfect” method, since we are still looking for it. There are methods that are more effective than others, within the context of various situations, and provably so. The question, then, is, for who is it better? While there are methods of thought that favor the individual and his achievements, there are also methods that favor the group and theirs. I personally favor the more group oriented philosophies, since in modern pluralistic societies, no one is an island. Even though the individual can and should achieve great things, it should not be to the detriment of his society (or that of others), or so I think. There are always levels to integration and individuality, and even though many individuals can push the boundaries that are before them, they cannot do so without the support of the structures that helped them achieve this.
This is why, to me, cooperation is one of the greatest human traits, and love, its greatest driver.

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