Co-operation VS Competition

In days gone by – when communities were smaller and lives were simpler – we knew who we were and we were ‘there’ for each other. If someone needed a barn raised, then he or she could rely on the whole community to come and lend a hand. When someone else needed their own barn raised, without question, we would have packed our tools and gone to lend what assistance we could – we helped and proffered assistance to the wider community and could expect the same in return. Today we are much more solitary animals. We each earn ‘our own way’ in the world – and often ‘compete’ aggressively with each other to do so. It is less a world of co-operation and more a world of competition – are we better off? In many ways, I do not think we are.
Villages have turned into towns and towns into cities; the world is a smaller, more accessible place, yet human beings are lonelier than ever. The world over, it seems the sense of community is more and more, a thing of the past.
Each of us though, builds or constructs their own community; a community that is not necessarily comprised of the people who live in our street – as it once did – but more likely comprised of a mix of family and friends that remains unique to each and every one of us.
Perhaps, many of us yearn for a greater sense of community; perhaps this is a part of the reason we feel such kinship with our fellow martial artists on the mat. In our mutual struggle we find kinship; we share victory and defeat alike and our souls are bared – even if only for a few hours a week. The human spirit can be a solitary thing; and each of us sets up our own unique set of boundaries that we apply to the larger outside world; we let some people in and share certain portions of our lives with them; and fewer still with whom we comfortable enough to bare our inner most thoughts with. Most friendships, begin with some kind of co-operative behaviour. We give something, we get something – it works out for both parties and bonds begin to form. Co-operation always feels good. The lack of struggle affords a kind of peace in an otherwise competitive world. Together, human beings can achieve remarkable things – competition builds strength and adaptability – but co-operation builds a foundation upon which we construct lives that allow us to transcend the ‘tooth and claw’ existence that nature alone, offers.


AnnT said…
I enjoyed your statement "Perhaps, many of us yearn for a greater sense of community; perhaps this is a part of the reason we feel such kinship with our fellow martial artists on the mat."
I also think that another aspect of well being for many people is touch. In addition to the emotional closeness of community, the physiological and emotional benefits of physical closeness are invaluable (speaking for myself). Although some aspects of training are competitive, it is an overwhelmingly co-operative endeavor, and there is a unique sense of acceptance that comes from such a sport that, in my experience, is absent in many other sport/martial arts, with a sense that people 'shouldn't touch'. Irrespective of the outcomes and aims of BJJ, it must surely benefit participants in this sense. Or maybe it's just a female thing. However, these benefits have been shown to apply to males and females equally, though not in the context of martial arts...we are all human after all.

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