Cooperation can fail. It can collapse in on itself, sometimes faster than a purely competitive social environment. We have been taught this a few times now after a year of trying to get Guilds of Requiem off the ground. We knew going in that for our vision of a better world to manifest, Requiem must be cooperative, not competitive, in nature. I want to share the lessons we have learned this year of starting up. Hopefully, this will help you to understand us, join us, or start your own Requiem- which means restful peace.
The first way we saw cooperation fail was when some of the people involved did not contribute. There is a tendency of some individuals to just hang out and see if good things are going to happen. We see this over and over. Some will give only after they have received more than they are willing to give. Others just want someone else to do the hard part, just waiting to jump in and do a painfully small bit to say, " see I'm with you!" Then you have some that just want it all done for them. "The government, corporation, or charity can help you do that," is perhaps the most frustrating thing to hear when you are trying to build a new paradigm. We theorize that this mentality comes from people in modern society being indoctrinated into a "welfare state" frame of mind or being chastised by too many dishonest people in the world promising too much only to take advantage of the naieve. It's mostly a matter of trust, or inability to trust. Nevertheless, reluctance to participate destroys cooperation.
The second lesson we learned was how important equality is when it comes to cooperation. Maybe I should say, a full understanding of equality must be present for a form of sustainable cooperation to begin. Racism, chauvinism, discrimination in any form cannot be present if a cooperative is to survive. A feeling that you are just simply less than another individual is just as destructive as feeling you are superior to another person. There MUST be an understanding that everyone can be equal while being different. The difference is actually where the strength comes from. If all the one-trick ponies did the same trick, when a new trick was needed they would all be screwed. All sorts of negative emotions find their source in these feelings of inequality: jealousy, anger, contempt, suspicion, superiority...they can tear down anything you build.
Responsibilty is crucial to a cooperative network, as well. All involved in a cooperative network are responsible for maintaining it or it falls into the trap of dissolving. I was given a subtle piece of wisdom recently: responsibility instead of ownership. Ownership is an imaginary human convention. Nobody really "owns" anything. On paper, you may own you clothes, your possessions, your house, your car, your animals...but do you really "own" them? If you begin to think of it in the form of stewardship, you then become responsible for your possessions, your land, your car, you relationships, your world, etc. become responsibilities instead of possessions. The whole paradigm changes just by replacing one word and you become a servant to everything. You are rewarded by how well you uphold your responsibility instead of turning over a profit from your assets and investments. Two servants serving each other as co-masters with no master is a sustainable bond. From this perspective, cooperation is the only thing that could arise. This wisdom speaks volumes.
I hope that everyone who reads this can gain. We are still learning how to deal with these destructive tendencies in others and ourselves. Life is a journey with a destination you never arrive at. So it is with all this- always room for improvement and growth.