The so-called ”Tragedy of the commons” is a general concept that describes how each individual has different personal interests that may be opposite to the interests of a group. Here, we do not talk about how people disagree, we talk about each person has to collide with a whole group of people who will not benefit from the same situations.
The term is often used to describe the mess that is created each time people have to cooperate in order to build a road, maintain a public structure, and so on. The conflict between personal and public interests is always present. Consider the example of a group of people who live in the village and want to build a big store where they will store all of their products.
The storage will be public and everyone will have access to it. Each person can work equally but there will always be some people that will prefer to work less to save time and energy to build their own houses and provide for their own families. This way when the storage will be complete they will be able to use it like everybody else but in the meanwhile, they will have managed to move on with the structure of their own houses. In other words, they will be a few steps ahead because they cheated. This is something that is very unlikely to stop happening but it is not the rule, it is the exception.
Today we often talk about how selfish people are and how they do not respect the planet or other creatures, however, it is the only form of life that has managed to cooperate so successfully. The first teachers in the game of cooperation are the insects. Insects work all together in order to provide for the public. Many animals that live in herds follow the same path.
In addition, all animals with no exception have similar behavior in terms of family, or at least the bond between mother and child. Altruism is being developed in these cases but some may argue that this only happens because otherwise babies would not be able to survive and finally the species would extinct. So, leaving families aside we have clearly observed signs of a society in other species apart from humans. Our difference, though is that no other species has gone so far so as to create structures that will be not only useful for the individual itself and the existing society but for future generations as well.
People may plant trees even though they know it will take them years before they produce their first fresh fruits. The knowledge that the next generation will taste them comforts them. Science would not have been developed if it was not for that and Elon Musk’s ambitious future plans to conquer the galaxy would not have even been attempted if it was not for humans’ altruism that reaches new levels.
What separates us from other animals the most is not our intelligence but our willingness to cooperate. Many people believe that the evolution of humans began when they created their first tool. However, this is not only a human achievement. Monkeys can create tools as well but it needs much more than that to evolve further. It is clear that we live in a time where humans are accused of many things but let us take a second and think about all of the things that we have accomplished so far.
Regardless of whether we have led things in the right direction or not we have surely shown some effort proving how willing we are to give it a try. Our impact on the planet is incomparable with the impact other animals have had. Instead of torturing ourselves with guilt, we should see how wonderfully the game of survival has led us to the right path and helped us see how vital cooperation is for our dominance. If there is one thing we should keep in mind is that cooperation is much more powerful than the competition. Competition can help a single person while cooperation can help both individuals and groups leading to extraordinary results that go beyond imagination.
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