The Value of Cooperation

Arguably the most important invention of the human race has been language, the ability to communicate with each other. Without this "invention" we could not have become the dominant species on our planet. We could not have cooperated with each other. Our race then took it to an even more impressive level by inventing a way to record our communications, written language, thereby permitting information to be passed from one group to another and from one millennium to another, communication through time.

The first step permitted us to cooperate with our fellow humans and that is what began our dominance. The second step allowed for the passage of knowledge with no restrictions of time. When we forget about this need, that to cooperate for MUTUAL benefit, we put ourselves at great disadvantage. We could bemoan the fact that this very invention is now used to fracture the human race into smaller conflicting groups. We could also comment that the very invention that gave us dominance of our world now holds the seeds of destruction for our whole race. But that would not change our errors. It is better to consider the value of friends and to consider how vulnerable each of us -- alone --- is. We all know "anyone can be gotten"!

About seven years ago I had an experience that really brought home this truth, "most of your strength is in your friends". I had been picking up some wood on the one end of my property, an area that is wooded and also a hillside. In turning the tractor with a trailer attached to go back down hill, the tractor rolled over and pinned my leg under the rear wheel. Somehow I stopped the tractor from continuing its roll down hill which would have caused it to roll directly over me. So there I lay with my leg pinned and one hand steadying the tractor so it didn't continue its roll. I could reach the switch and so was able to shut the engine off. I tried to dig the ground out from under my leg to free myself but found a large tree root there making it impossible. I called for my wife, but she couldn't hear me, it was too far. It was at least an hour that I lay there calling until my voice would no longer work, totally helpless. Finally my wife decided to check on me, saw my situation and called for help. The emergency response team lifted the tractor from my leg, and took me to the hospital. I was not injured, only sore, and so was released. The lessons of the value of friends, and the value of cooperation were made very clear, as well as the vulnerability of a lone human.

Often in martial art we forget these lessons, instead focusing on the myth of individual power, which is only measured in relation to other humans. This in no way means we should not develop ourselves, make ourselves more knowledgeable through study, training, and education. It only means we should keep things in proper perspective. Do not allow your ego to become your master, it must always remain your servant! Developing yourself is the way of a warrior.