A black hole has been observed for the first time in human history. To be more specific, the shadow of a black hole’s event horizon, i.e. the distance from a black hole that particles moving at the speed of light cannot escape its gravitational pull, has been imaged. Black holes are, of course, called black holes, because they are so massive that even light cannot escape their gravitational pull. For years, scientists have used indirect observations of the influence black holes have on their surroundings to transform a mathematical construct into an observable phenomenon. The image at the center of the Messier 87 galaxy is not particularly stunning, but the implications that can be discerned from the data recorded could open a new chapter in the history of astronomy and physics. Although the significance of the development may seem inconsequential in terms of everyday life, the knowledge gained may eventually transform life as we know it. It is a breakthrough that was only possible thanks to global cooperation.
To capture the first image of a black hole, scientists had to transform the Earth into a massive telescope under the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) project. Hundreds of researchers used eight telescopes at six locations to make observations of the black hole’s surroundings. They spent two decades developing the necessary equipment and techniques needed to observe an event horizon then another two years gathering and analyzing data. Scientists are very good at cooperating when it comes to global endeavors that demand years worth of commitments. Political leaders, in contrast, tend to be confrontational even when they are attempting to be cooperative. Outside of the rare statesman, politicians tend to be driven by their own ambitions. They will collaborate to win elections as members of the same political parties and work together to institute public policy initiatives that offer a mutual benefit to their careers and the agendas of their special interest backers. Consequently, competition tends to be a defining feature of political collaborations. With secondary agendas at play, the common good is undermined by the self-promoting, antagonistic nature of political cooperation.
Due to the inherently competitive nature of economics and geopolitics, too much globalization and international entanglement can be harmful to the Peoples of the world. Instead of cooperating to serve the interests of the world’s population, world leaders cooperate for the benefit of the influential, i.e. those who can and seek to out-compete everyone else at all costs. That is not actual cooperation. That is competition taken to a dysfunctional, toxic level. Sustaining the International Community to avoid mutually destructive competition requires nations forgo antagonistic competition in favor of constructive cooperation. Where suppressing, instead of addressing, the competing interests of nations like the US, Russia, and China for the sake of peace sows the seeds for future conflict, antagonistic approaches to foreign policy and degenerative competition between nations are the greatest threat to international governance and global prosperity. In terms of the global economy, the same is true when it comes to the need to address the economic interests of all Peoples and nations.
Looking to the private sector for valuable insights, successful businesses and other endeavors are built on the cooperation of many individuals over the period of years. Middle Class and wealthy families push their children to succeed. When more affluent parents help their kids study to ensure they do well in school and use their personal assets to help pay for their children’s college, parents are engaging in constructive cooperation. When more affluent parents help their children start a new business, place them in a management role at their own company, or help them find a good job, they are giving them access to opportunities others their age cannot access alone, thus they are engaging in constructive cooperation. In essence, Middle Class and wealthy parents are leveraging their success to help their children succeed. For those who do not enjoy the benefits of a family willing and/or able to engage in constructive cooperation, the burden of success is solely on their own shoulders.
The poor, in contrast, face degenerative interdependency. Where Middle Class and wealthy families pool, or invest, their assets to help the next generation prosper, the poor tend to cannibalize off the extremely limited assets of each other. Instead of utilizing familial and communal assets to develop new assets, poor families and communities simply consume their assets. This is largely due to the reality that their available assets are generally insufficient to cover even their basic needs. It is, however, also due to a lack of access to viable opportunities, i.e. their underdeveloped potential. A child from a poor family with Middle Class friends will have access to more opportunities than two children from two poor families, but two children from two Middle Class families will have access to a greater number of opportunities. Poor families also tend to engage in fewer structured social activities due to the constraints of their budgets; whereas, Middle Class and wealthy families expect their children to engage in a variety of activities that will bolster their social standing and hone their talents. Not only do Middle Class and affluent parents provide access to such opportunities, their grandparents, relatives, and the parents of their friends do so as well.
Later in life, the constructive cooperation within Middle Class and wealth social circles helps children from more affluent families access far more, far better opportunities. Children from poor families, who have access to those social circles, can also benefit from such constructive cooperation. Those children from poor families, who are reliant on social circles consisting solely of the poor, will have very few, very low quality opportunities available to them. Ultimately, those who lack resources and connections can succeed, but they are less likely to succeed, especially when competing against those who have such an advantage. It will also take them much longer to succeed, which means they are unlikely to reach their full potential. To generalize, greater cooperation ensures people have what they need to thrive; whereas, toxic competition forces people to rely on each other in a degenerative way just to survive. In approaching public policy initiatives and international endeavors, constructive cooperation needs to be the driving force, not self-serving competition.
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