I will strive in everything I do to work together with my fellowmen.
Like clean and honest thoughts, words and deeds, working with people is easier said than done; it is a skill to be learnt and practiced.
How did we get here?
With the proliferation of after-school lessons we have an entire generation that knows much less about being a member of a group such as a choir, boys scouts, girls guides, chess club, football club etc and so experience in social cooperation may be lacking.
The older generation also has its challenges with social cooperation because as we became more developed and more wealthy as a nation, there is less and less dependence on community cooperation for the greater benefit of all.
Now we take great pride in paying for services such as child care, home maintenance and personal services which in the past neighbour would render to neighbour as part of everyday life. We are determined to pay for what we need and not have to depend on anyone for anything. In addition to the folly that is pride, I am sure this aggressive self reliance comes with good reason and anecdotes of dissension between in laws, family members neighbors over broken lawnmowers and never-returned/stolen cutlasses (it’s always a cutlass, isn’t it).
Even churches have fallen out of the habit of having members come out to help with church building work. Gayap is nearly extinct nowadays. Credit unions, friendly societies and sou-sous are replaced by the cold formality/profit-driven warmth of banks. We have become perilously dependent on state services and private business for neighbourly goodwill and community development.
Volunteerism is probably at an all time low as the prevailing models of work-life balance leaves little time or energy for community building. Then we wonder what is going on in our country i.e. the larger community when we don’t have a foundation of community development on the ‘ground level’.
Why we need to change
Working together with people, sharing skills and resources toward a common cause are essential life skills that we relearn. Here are a few reasons why:
- One day we may have no choice. Whether it be a financial collapse, collapse of government, collapse of communication systems or a natural disaster, we will have to come together just to survive. It would be much better for us if we develop this skill during times of peace and safety.
- Working together with others keeps us human, humane and sane. Increasing social isolation is expected to give rise to depression and mental health issues. Social media doesn’t combat this and actually is likely to make isolation more pronounced.
- We all stand to benefit personally, socially, financially and environmentally. Car pooling, tool sharing, co-ops and the like, takes some effort and sacrifice but this kind of activity leads us to be a more socially and environmentally caring people. In effect we bring back the old time days with less traffic, less stress and a better quality of life.
- Social cooperation can be a catalyst for innovation. Social media has shown us that entire industries can be developed on social cooperation, crowd sourcing of skills, information and funds, there is much more to discover. T&T can offer the world an economically advanced sou-sou or gayap or community housing model to eradicate poverty or …who knows what.
- Social cooperation allows us to develop communication, conflict resolution, project management and leadership skills. If children join us they get a head start in these areas too.
- Working with people is a way of discovering more about your self-your strengths, your weaknesses, your vulnerabilities and even some exciting new opportunities.
- As a country we will become better at planning and executing programmes and projects as our workforce gains experience in project management, leadership and communication.
These benefits will only come as we have the courage, faith and perseverance needed for any great achievement. If we start small with a Tuesday carpool, for instance, and try it for a year, we can eventually attempt and conquer more and more complex cooperative projects.
Be the change you want see in T&T