I stumbled on this quirky book of quotes called Women Know Everything the other day. I’ve been working with a lot of women for many years, so I’m not one to dispute this statement. Consider the fact that women typically don’t start wars or blow up buildings. Instead, women give life. Women know tips and tricks about living, loving and getting along (and other less noble things, I’m sure). If at first they don’t, they figure it out. If they can’t figure it out, they ask for help; not because they’re helpless or needy or manipulative but because they are able to locate themselves in the interdependent nature of our us-ness.
Women, at some point in their lives, figure out the value of cooperation and learn that by applying its principles, lives improve.
Helen Keller said, alone we can do so little; together we can do so much. Rosemary Brown, a Canadian politician, said, until all of us have made it, none of us have made it. Virginia Burden Tower, an American writer, used different words with the same sentiment, cooperation is the thorough conviction that nobody can get there unless everybody gets there.
Certain wise men were also clued in on the merits of cooperation. Bertrand Russell, one of my favorite Western philosophers, said, the only thing that will redeem mankind is cooperation. Albert Einstein said, a hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life depend on the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose birthday we recently celebrated, said, we may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.
Everyone I know wants a better world, yet when we look around, one has to wonder if all this praise for cooperation is mere lip service. Opportunities exist for some but not for others and equality remains one of those words that seems possible only in mathematical equations. Are we, deep down, too selfish to create mutually beneficial solutions so that we all advance together and no one is left behind? Are we too self-absorbed in our too-comfortable place to want to do anything so that others who have much less may also obtain some degree of comfort and ease? Do we only want to help ourselves and not others?
I don’t know.
What I do know is the world is full of parents, teachers, artists and dreamy doers who give everything they have to what they do. I bet they could write books on cooperation, collaboration and interdependence. They go about their business with commitment, passion and joy. And I can’t help but think that there’s hope to making the world a better place because of them.
Can we make the world a better place?