Mend it Monday #14

“If you can’t fix it, you don’t really own it”

Stientje v Veldhoven, Dutch Secretary of State for the Environment

Whilst I’ve managed some fairly small mends recently, the mend I want to share today was so big that it took two of us to complete and I didn’t have the energy left to write about it. So, over to Mr Snail for all the details (prepare yourself for the puns)…

Do pop over to read it, there is a picture of me brandishing a tool!

Let’s work together

I heard a report on the radio this morning about childhood obesity in which some politician stated that he wanted to ensure that children got more physical exercise in schools by increasing the amount of competitive sport. And I just wanted to scream. At school I hated competitive sport – I was a skinny child with big glasses who was always picked last for teams in PE. I cringed at the idea of running up and down a hockey field in the rain; I detested volleyball, even going as far as pretending to be ill to avoid having to play. But this did not mean I wasn’t active: I loved trampolining, swimming, riding my bike, dog walking even a bit of friendly badminton. I loved physical activity, but I hated competition.

Cooperation on a felt-making course

Cooperation on a felt-making course

As I grew to adulthood, this outlook was reinforced. I continued to be active – aerobics, yoga, swimming, walking – but I avoided competition. I still do, although I don’t mind watching others competing sometimes (a bit of 6 Nations rugby whilst knitting is fine). And I wonder how many other people feel this way. I wonder how many children will avoid taking part in PE if they are forced to compete. I wonder how many people are turned off by politics because of its adversarial nature. I wonder how many people would campaign against injustice if it didn’t feel like a game of ‘us’ against ‘them’.

Personally, I like sharing, being supported, being part of a community and I like cooperation. And, you know what? I’m not the only one. According to the BBC, for example, the most popular participation sport in England is swimming… not football as you might assume if you ever watch the TV.

In addition, recent research is demonstrating that the natural world is not simply about competition. ‘Nature red in tooth and claw’, as Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote in his poem In Memoriam, is not always true. Microbial systems have been found to act cooperatively, particularly when populations are expanding and there is evidence of the value of cooperation over competition in a range of species – including human beings. There are also many examples of successful cooperative behaviour in the world of insects, and this within stable and robust communities. Cooperation is not exceptional, it’s common and it works.

So, what do you think? As for me, I agree with Canned Heat: Let’s Work Together.

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