Text and Photos by Henrylito D. Tacio
“There is immense power when a group of people with similar interests get together to work toward the same goals.” – Idowu Koyenikan, author of Wealth for All: Living a Life of Success at the Edge of Your Ability
There are several stories about pianist Ignace Paderewski. One of those is related by Darrel L. Anderson:
A mother, wishing to encourage her son’s progress at the piano, bought tickets for a Paderewski performance. They had seats near the front of the concert hall.
The mother found a friend to talk to, and the boy slipped away. When eight o’clock came around, the spotlights came on, and only then did they notice the boy at the piano bench innocently picking out, “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.”
The master appeared on the stage and quickly moved to the keyboard. “Don’t quit. Keep playing,” he whispered to the little boy.
Leaning over, Paderewski reached down with his left hand and began filling in a bass part. Soon his right arm reaches around the other side, encircling the child, to add a running obligato.
Together, the old master and the young novice held the crowd spellbound.
There is power in one. But there’s even more power if there are two or more doing together. “Large number of strangers can cooperate successfully by believing in common myth,” Yuval Noah Harari wrote in Sapiens: A Brief History of Mankind.
In another book, Homo Deus: A History of Tomorrow, Harari had the same view. “In order to mount a revolution, numbers are never enough. Revolutions are usually made by small networks of agitators rather than by the masses. If you want to launch a revolution, don’t ask yourself, ‘How many people support my ideas?’ Instead, ask yourself, ‘How many of my supporters are capable of effective collaboration?'”
Collaboration is another term of cooperation. Let me tell you an anecdote authored by Bruno Hagspiel:
Two lively heifers were grazing in the pasture. They were tied to one another by a long rope. The farmer came along with two buckets of water and placed them far enough apart so the young cows would not fight when they wanted to take a drink.
No sooner had the farmer left than a real battle started. Each cow wanted to go to its bucket of water, but the rope was not long enough. They tugged and pulled and fumed. Their tempers flared, their hearts pounded, they were sweating. Finally, in utter exhaustion, they both lay down to rest, now thirstier than ever before.
Then one of the heifers said to the other, “We’re fighting for nothing and no one is getting any water. Why don’t we pull together, instead of pulling apart? First, let’s both go over and drink out of my bucket. Then we’ll come back and drink out of yours.”
So, that’s just what they did. And it worked like a charm: both were well-watered and content. They had learned the lesson of cooperation.
“We are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided,” British author reminded in her bestselling, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Or, as Alexander Dumas, author of The Three Musketeers, puts it: “All for one and one for all.”
According to the Rockefeller Foundation, whether we wish it or not, even in war, we help our enemies, proving that we are, despite our antagonism, one big, though sometimes unhappy, family. Consider these:
An American soldier wounded by the Japanese owes his life to the Japanese scientist Kitasato, who isolated the tetanus’ germ. A Russian soldier is saved by a blood transfusion, which came to him from Landsteiner, an Austrian. A German soldier is shielded from typhoid with the help of the Russian, Metchnikoff.
A Dutch marine in the East Indies is protected from malaria because of experiments by an Italian called Grassi. A British flier in North Africa escapes death from surgical infections because of a Frenchman, Pasteur, and a German named Koch and their work with bacteria.
Such fact reminded me of the words of Virchand Raghavji Gandhi: “This is my country, that is your country; these are the conceptions of narrow souls – to the liberal-minded, the whole world is a family.”
Hermann Hesse (of Siddhartha distinction) also pointed this out: “Whether it is good or evil, whether life in itself is pain or pleasure, whether it is uncertain – that may perhaps be this is not important – but the unity of the world, the coherence of all events, the embracing of the big and small from the same stream, from the same law of cause, of becoming and dying.”
We live together on one planet. We breathe the same air. We are all brothers and sisters. If we believe the Creation, we came from the same parents: Adam and Eve. “Consider your own place in the universal oneness of which we are all a part, which we all arise, and to which we all return,” wrote David Fontana.
In union, there is strength, so goes a familiar saying. That’s what Frank Mihalic wants us to think when he compared cooperation to that of one whole body. “All the parts of the bodywork together and help each other,” he wrote. “My eye sees something. I like what I see, and I want to get it. So, my feet bring me to where it is.
“Another time, my hears a dog barking, and I get afraid,” Mihalic continues. “So, this time my feet help me to run away. In this way, my feet helped my ear. Then again, maybe my finger hurts me. What happens? I look down to see what is causing the pain. My eye is helping my finger. Perhaps I am sick; I have malaria. What happens? I don’t want to get out of bed. My feet and legs won’t carry me. So, I just like in bed and do nothing. And that is very good for me; then I don’t waste energy running around. I concentrate overcoming the sickness. So, in that case, my feet help me by refusing to work.”