30 January 2009

Conquest Versus Cooperation

We try to conquer each other every day. We compete over who has the most stuff. We race to see who can get to a red light first. Then we step on the gas to see who can accelerate away from it faster. We are surrounded by the culture of conquest in every day life. And it's mostly unconscious. We mostly don't even realize it.

For example: Who has the latest bling-bling? We worry about fashion while people half-way around the world starve, and suffer any number of brutal assaults against their personal beings and human dignity.

We are living, as part of this society, drastically and dramatically out of proportion, and out of scale, with the planet's ability to provide. We are on a downward spiral. If this doesn't change, more and more energy will be poured into diminishing returns. Energy, of all Earthbound kinds, is becoming more and more scarce, and more and more difficult to access and maintain. It's a chain-reaction. It's a self-destructive cycle.

Yet, nonetheless, we have an opportunity to build a different culture. We can build a culture of cooperation, compassion, kindness, equitable use of resources... Yes we can.

So let's compare some of the aspects of these rival cultures. Below I have created a list.

This is a work in progress. This is by no means an exhaustive list, and I am sure that I have left out some major and important points.

Please feel free to add terms to the lists.

Culture of Conquest Culture of Cooperation
  • violent
  • imperial
  • exploitative
  • hurtful
  • harmful
  • domineering
  • authoritative
  • controlling
  • militaristic
  • destructive
  • socially degrading
  • environmentally degrading
  • dehumanizing
  • corrupt
  • dishonest
  • divisive
  • focusing on differences
  • hateful
  • malicious
  • selfish
  • greedy
  • racist
  • judgmental
  • make assumptions
  • jump to conclusions
  • nonviolent
  • sharing
  • compassionate
  • kind
  • loving
  • trusting
  • honest
  • truthful
  • respectful
  • constructive
  • productive of lasting achievement
  • uplifting
  • life-serving
  • participatory
  • democratic
  • consensual
  • peaceful
  • life-affirming
  • benign
  • generous
  • tolerant and accepting of differences regarding
    • race,
    • ethnicity,
    • religion,
    • sexual orientation,
    • gender,
    • etc.
  • treat all people equally
  • ask questions


  1. in the details of tolerant and accepting, I'd add age. This a thoughtful reflection. I believe we have to do apply these principles in our day to day lives as well as in the larger scale of public life.

  2. Good recommendation - thanks! I had actually thought of that one too. I am working on getting around to posting an updated version of this, I have thought of several more oppositional aspects of cultures.

    I am trying to wrap my head around it. I don't like dualism. But it seems that there must be opposition and confrontation, between that which is harmful and degenerative, and that which is helpful and uplifting.

    violence and hurtfulness vs. kindness and tolerance - hard to get around it.

    I am not sure if the concept of a culture of "cooperation" is the best way to frame the alternative culture.

    Culture of peace, social and environmental justice, sustainability...and cooperative efforts to focus on sharing and equitable distribution of limited resources...

    Maybe Culture of Cooperation is good enough! I like the sound of it anyway!

    With Love,

  3. ...nondiscriminatory as well as tolerant and acceptance of/toward personal differences...