An Encouraging Word — The key to rebirth is cooperation

Be united in the same mind and in the same purpose. I Corinthians 1:10

Glenn Rutherford, editor of The Record, wrote a wonderful editorial on May 9 entitled “Competition or cooperation?” It was so good that I cut it out to quote in my talks to priests on working together as unified presbyterates with their bishops. I would like to continue his discussion.

Our religion is radically communal in nature. Our God is a trinity of persons. We are all children of one God. We are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers. The most fundamental tenet of Christianity is love of God and one’s neighbors as oneself. “Catholic,” means “universal and inclusive.”

The key to achieving a rebirth of our culture, to improving our relationships, our neighborhoods, our towns and cities, our parishes and even the crises facing the world lies in getting back to the basics of cooperation and giving up our love affair with competition.

The mistaken belief — that winning means somebody else loses — is the greatest cancer of our time, accounting for most of the crises we experience. Research shows that students, employees, managers, business owners, couples and neighbors are happier, healthier and far more productive when they work together in collaborative ways.

Lynne McTaggart, in her book The Bond: How to Fix Your Falling Down World, says this, “The change in emphasis in our relationships and our society from “me” to “we” will not erode individual rights, ability, achievement, freedom of expression or ownership in any way. Nor will it require that we relinquish our hard-earned cash or possessions, repudiate our economic system or overturn our democratic way of life.
The only thing we will give up is the need to strive for individual achievement at another’s expense.”

She cites a research project of Michigan State University on self-talk. Self-talk is that inner dialogue people use to psych themselves up before performances by focusing on internal affirmations and pep talks that revolve around “I” to build personal confidence.

This research project focused on what happens to individual performance when participants concentrate their self-talk on the group’s performance as a whole. When the researchers tallied the results, both personal confidence and performance were highest in those focusing on group affirmations. Those using group-oriented self-talk displayed more confidence in the team but also performed better as individuals.

In my work with priests, after talking about the basics of “spiritual leadership,” I ask them to imagine what would happen to a diocese if one hundred individual priests committed to high quality spiritual leadership decided to think “we” and started to work as a real team with each other and with the bishop.

What would happen to family life in this country if each and every member of them decided to work together as a team? What would happen to this country if our political parties decided to really work together rather than compete? What would happen to the world if countries decided to cooperate rather than compete?

Father J. Ronald Knott

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