Competition vs cooperation in a crisis

Competition vs cooperation in a crisis

The natural human impulse is to bunker down and look out for Number One when times get tough. But is that actually the most effective response?

Mark DelaneyMar 20, 2023, 12:52 AM

At school, I remember being put into “houses” for sport, after which teachers and older students would actively promote how good “our house” was compared to the others. The indoctrination of competition over cooperation had begun.

In the years that followed, we were taught to compete with other students in exams, other candidates in job interviews and other companies in business. Jump forward a few years, and we see our learned-from-childhood tendency to compete, rather than cooperate, playing out in dangerous ways with respect to the two biggest threats of our time, Covid-19 and climate change.

“We reject the ideology of globalism, and we embrace the doctrine of patriotism!” President Trump derided the idea of global cooperation quite succinctly at a speech to the UN in 2018. Essentially, Trump opined, if agreements you make with others don’t benefit you (in this case agreements with the rest of the global community), get out.

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