Infographics by GenesisEcoFund: More than Cooperative Co-ops:
If Cooperation is the cornerstone to a better society, ecosystems are the foundation to a better humanity
The idea of co-operatives is not new, just as the concept of co-operation is as old as humanity itself. But is co-operation all we need to overcome the challenges facing humanity in the 21st Century?
Co-operation is a very human concept. It suggests not only an agreement, but a conscious choice: a decision to co-operate versus some other alternative (i.e. compete). This then not only makes it an aspect of higher-order thinking, it ends up in the mental frameworks of cost-benefit analysis, etc.
It turns out there is something even more fundamental, more primal and far more instinctive than cooperation. And as always, it is found at the heart of nature, ecological relationships and at the heart of every ecosystem.
Harmony and mutual symbiosis is the foundation and framework of all nature. Competition exists at multiple levels within this broader, superior framework, but since competition serves the whole in the big picture, it too then is an aspect of harmony and mutual symbiosis.
What is good for one organism is ALWAYS beneficial to the ecosystem as a whole. Unless that organism happens to be a human.
Human beings are the only species who do not comprehend this fundamental law of nature: that any action taken in the microcosm will be reflected in the macrocosm. Thus, any behaviour by any particular organism must be aligned with the goal of the macro ecological goal, or it must be discarded.
Now clearly, since harmony and mutually symbiotic relationships are everywhere in nature, right down to single-celled organisms, such harmony is spontaneous, instinctive, inherent…individual organisms do not exactly have a say in the matter.
The fact that human beings do have a say in the matter is precisely what is to blame for civilizations’ dismal track record of abhorrent environmental stewardship…or better put, our complete inability to respect and maintain a harmonious and mutually symbiotic relationship with the planet.
This, despite the fact that most humans comprehend the importance of cooperation. So what’s going on?
How is it that human beings have such a dismal relationship with the macro environment, despite having such a firm grasp of co-operation, particularly in our personal and professional relationships?
The answer comes back to the fact that co-operation is a limited human concept with a limited reach. Nature doesn’t function on cooperation, it functions on that more primal, instinctive, foundational thing…harmony and mutual symbiosis.
Humanity’s compulsion to cooperate with fellow humans when need be and exploit everything and everyone else has led to the total lack of comprehension of what harmony and mutual symbiosis actually is.
So here we have organizations called “Co-operatives” or “CO-Ops” who like to think of themselves as superior to typical for-profit enterprise. What gives them that sense of superiority—a kind of moral superiority, as it were—is precisely the fact that their actions in the world are more likely to be beneficial to individuals, community and society by virtue that their cornerstone is co-operation.
But sadly, when it comes to SUSTAINABILITY, co-ops are just as hamstrung as all other corporations and organizations…running around trying to apply this human-engineered system or that human-derived solution to problems which are INFINITELY MORE COMPLEX and FAR BEYOND THE REACH of human conceptions.
Even a Co-op, though theoretically positioned to do what is best for society, has no special advantage when it comes to sustainability, because nature cannot rely on its cornerstone of co-operation. Nature must function on something deeper, more foundational and infinitely more powerful than mere cooperation. Nature must have harmony and mutual symbiosis.
And now co-ops can have it too.
If co-operation is the foundation for a better society, then imagine what can be achieved with ecosystems? Imagine what happens when organizational culture is based on harmony and mutual symbiosis?
Just as the concept of co-operation leads to the co-op culture, stronger communities, and a better society; so too, ecosystems will lead to a culture of harmony and mutual symbiosis, true sustainability, and a better humanity—able to maintain harmonic and mutually symbiotic relationships with ecology and the planet.
As in the microcosm, so will it be in the macrocosm. Developing a harmonious and mutually symbiotic relationship with nature within the walls and halls of your organization, is what will inspire harmonious, symbiotic and bio-mimetic behaviours, innovations and solutions that truly work.
Take your co-op to the next level. That's what we mean by more cooperative co-ops.