The Future is Cooperative
Competition can't fix our greatest challenges.
Competition isn’t inherent in human nature. It’s a choice.
We’re driven to compete by a sense of scarcity that’s drilled into us by media we consume, social values we grow up with, and narratives we construct. This ‘survival of the fittest’ capitalist socialization cements competition as a default behavior, leaving cooperation feeling counterintuitive.
The pandemic struggles of the past year have brought the perils of competition into clearer focus. When we resort to individualism, we’re left with a toilet paper shortage. When we cooperate, life-saving vaccines are created and distributed in record time.
We can create the future we want through cooperation.
Taking on humanity’s most daunting challenges will require enormous levels of cooperative ambition and creativity. Climate crisis, economic inequality, and unsustainable food systems won’t be overcome by a single actor. These entrenched systems issues are born out of the blind pursuit of profit at the expense of people and planet. By recognizing business is at the root of many of these problems, we can also see it has the potential to solve them. This isn’t altruism. It’s survival.
When cooperation becomes our compass, we can break free from the rat race and focus on solving the important issues at hand. An ethic of cooperation evolves “What’s in it for me?” to “What can we create together?”
Competition leaves too many behind. This isn’t a sustainable mode of existence. We need to move forward together.
Our question for this cycle of Athena: What happens when business puts cooperation ahead of competition?
We’re particularly interested in four areas of cooperation that have the potential to change the way we live and do business: