“You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.” – Matthew 5:9

One has merely to tune into local media outlets to be greeted by negative international, regional or national news. There are political and religious conflicts in many parts of the world and in the Caribbean region we have not yet found the right formula for national and regional cooperation. As small as we are, we have not learned how to cooperate instead of compete or fight.

There was an example last week which reared its head in Trinidad and Tobago. There are many developments in the Chaguaramas area which have resulted in a significant increase in traffic from Port-of-Spain to Chaguaramas but there is only a relatively narrow two lane access road, one lane in each direction. There is a major traffic problem for commuters travelling along this route because a journey which should take minutes sometimes takes hours because of the traffic congestion.

The Government party, at a recent political meeting, announced that if re-elected after this year’s general election, it would build a causeway along T & T’s northwest peninsular connecting the capital to Chaguaramas and thus alleviating the traffic congestion.

On the face of it this would seem to be a reasonable suggestion among the possible alternatives. Another suggestion has been a mountain tunnel.

Given such suggestions, an expected next step would be a pre-feasibility study to determine the advantages and disadvantages of the alternatives and then a feasibility study of the selected alternative which would report on the financial and economic feasibility of such a venture.

But no. Instead the country goes into political overdrive with the opposition party describing the promise to build a causeway from Port-of-Spain to Chaguaramas as a new political low, saying that the Government party publicly dismissed the idea when it was presented by the Opposition party in 2010 (when they were in government) as a “waste of time and money”.

The Opposition then accused the Government of not having any ideas of its own and intended to campaign for the general election using the Opposition’s development plans for T & T, and continued that it was a brazen attempted theft of the Opposition party’s policy which appeared in its 2010 manifesto.

The Opposition argued that an engineering consulting firm made a presentation to the then Government (now in opposition) in March 2010 with recommendations on the design, route alignment, construction method and estimated cost of the causeway and the company was then ordered to invite tenders for the project. The Opposition concluded that if the Government had followed through with these plans, the construction of the causeway would have been well underway by now.

Surely, it does not matter whose idea it was and who should have done what when. What is more important is for each party to convince the electorate of their strategy to address this national issue and to select a solution to the traffic congestion problem from Port-of-Spain to Chaguaramas and to state, now, how they propose to implement it.

Politicians throughout the Caribbean and beyond may be well served to adopt the concept of Co-opetition which has been coined to describe cooperative competition – “A Primal Wisdom: Nature’s Unification of Cooperation and Competition” (May 2014) by V Frank Asaro.

An extract reads: “Co-opetition occurs when entities interact with partial congruence of interests. They cooperate with each other to reach a higher value creation if compared to the value created without interaction and struggle to achieve competitive advantage”.

In the case of political parties, they should interact to improve the lot of the peoples which they serve and not to nurture selfish political interests. They should cooperate with each other to ensure that the country grows from strength to strength rather than fighting as if in a tug of war. Great maturity and an innovative political system are required to achieve this.

The following was published in Dailyword.com last week on the topic “World Peace”: “By building peace inside myself, I grow in power to bring positive changes to my life and the world. My personal contribution will add to the greater whole. Thus, I help build peace on earth step-by-step-one interaction at a time.

“Each choice to respond in love fosters peace. When I walk away from a needless confrontation, offer a kind word, or help a friend in need, I have helped generate greater peace.

“Peace comes in many ways. I contribute to serenity in my life and the world when I handle my finances consciously and when I do community service. I develop peace within when I care about the environment and all the creatures that share the planet with me. As I build peace in my soul, I contribute to peace in the world”.

If we are to reduce the international, regional or national political and religious conflicts in many parts of the world, we have to cultivate love for one another. Remember that “each Life stands under a beam of Light which draws its energy from an infinite pool of Love”.

The answer may also be found in the chorus to the Sam Cooke song “Wonderful World”: “But I do know that I love you, And I know that if you love me too; What a wonderful world this would be”.

Let us become engulfed in love and take our places as part of God’s family.
(Dr. Basil Springer GCM is Change-Engine Consultant, Caribbean Business Enterprise Trust Inc. – CBET. His columns may be found at www.cbetmodel.org and www.nothingbeatsbusiness.com.)