What Have I Noticed Inspires Cooperation Instead of Coercion?

by Gretchen Kemman

As recent world events demonstrate, relying upon coercion to achieve goals inhibits cooperation, undermines goodwill, and harms far more people than it helps. Coercion drains lifeblood. In contrast, ancient principles of inalienable human rights provide a sound guide for achieving the greatest good for everyone. Respecting inalienable human rights inspires cooperation.

Most of the best things in life flow from people’s natural eagerness to cooperate to benefit themselves while also helping others. Of course, everyone must take certain actions merely to avoid negative consequences, but these best occur voluntarily, in harmony with nature and with others. Encouraging personal responsibility inspires cooperation.

People living together in respectful cooperation still have imperfections, yet their actions over time show they strive to live by a higher standard, and they admit mistakes. Such people regularly walk in the shoes of others, seeking insights. Through loving and wise contemplation, they draw strength to avoid enabling the abuses precipitated by coercion. Cultivating empathy, kindness, and tolerance inspires cooperation.

Some beautiful human achievements occur even within extremely coercive environments because free will persists. People enduring prolonged oppression could simply give up and die, end their own suffering, yet many do not. Why? Does fear of death keep them going? No. Fear diminishes life and holds no power to sustain. Rather, human will seeks to create meaning out of suffering so others may be spared. Dreaming of a brighter future for others inspires cooperation.

“Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Bronte, one of the greatest novels of all time, illustrates these principles perfectly, as does another great novel, “David Copperfield” by Charles Dickens. The protagonists refuse to condone coercive human qualities and through their moral stances lead themselves and others toward greater well-being. Admiring moral characters inspires cooperation.

Consider beloved coaches, grandparents, mentors, parents, pastors, and teachers. These individuals earn admiration through consistently respectful interactions. Their authority flows from sharing knowledge and wisdom. Rather than promoting fear and hatred and demanding conformity, they instill courage and love and cultivate creativity and maturity. Cherishing good people inspires cooperation.

Mild forms of coercion in the name of protection can be wise at times, of course. No one doubts the necessity of restraining a toddler about to run into a busy street. But good parents never prefer coercive acts. Rather they seek to avoid, minimize, and, eventually, eliminate them. Children willingly learn how to protect themselves in various ways at appropriate ages, and we applaud their achievements towards independence. Valuing independence inspires cooperation.

An abundance of historical evidence shows creative and constructive powers increase when societies place a high priority on respecting inalienable human rights. Living in a free and just environment liberates productive energy and encourages peace, thereby uplifting all. Nurturing freedom and justice inspires cooperation.

Beginning in 2020, in response to extreme levels of coercion imposed by governments around the world, millions have come together in peaceful protest to form a cooperative focused on exposing and stopping numerous abuses. This group of volunteers includes attorneys, bloggers, data analysts, doctors, essayists, journalists, musicians, novelists, playwrights, researchers, scientists, statisticians, visual artists, and others. Many have put their careers, their reputations, and their wealth on the line to join this caring effort. They understand respect for inalienable human rights protects everyone in a society, not just the wealthiest and highest in status. They understand coercion is far more likely to harm the most vulnerable than it is those with abundant resources. Sharing energy and love and goodwill inspires cooperation.

With the principles of inalienable human rights to guide us in respecting, encouraging, cultivating, dreaming, admiring, cherishing, valuing, nurturing, and sharing, we can inspire cooperation, avoid coercion, and help to build a brighter and freer world for all. Please help to spread this wonderful news far and wide.

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