Celebrating Diversity
December 2009

“I am the tie that binds.” This is the vision of humanity proposed by Albert Jacquard, geneticist, engineer and philosopher, during the recent l’éducation à la coopération et à la mutualité, conference given last October 9. “I am the tie that binds” reminds us that mankind evolves thanks to and because of its relationships with others. Subjected to a genetic luck of the draw, born into the world before being capable of dealing with it on his own, Man’s child is an incomplete being, a person in progress, who needs others to fully develop.

This is a very simple lesson, really. We know for a fact that a baby endowed with the most amazing genetic baggage but devoid of human care and contact would remain in a feral or animal state. Therefore, environmental input enables potential to develop. And it is by meeting others that one is created because they constantly push a person to revise his or her personal representations, half-truths, and fragments of information. Along those same lines, Saint-Exupéry once said: “If I am different from you, far from being harmful, I enhance your being.” This is a formidable argument for the network approach and the promotion of diversity. 

However, during a class I was taking I remember being stuck in a text that included the network as one of my personal skills. I always considered the network to be an invaluable tool, but to raise it to the rank of personal skills seemed exaggerated. It’s just that the notion of “network of contacts”, you’ll certainly agree, is often reduced to its political component… which sometimes leads people to judge each other in a purely utilitarian perspective based on their contact with influential people. This attitude is repulsive to me.

Thankfully, my experience with La Coop fédérée has been educating in this respect. Having witnessed several consultations, discussion forums and social events that keep our network’s association life active, I now completely agree with the idea that the network can constitute, for each of its members, a personal skill. You see, the network encourages the development of skills, such as listening, empathy, feedback, integration, synthesis, cooperation… which are all incredibly useful to understand the complexity of the world we call our own. 

It is effectively a complex world. And an increasingly complex world in which joining forces is inevitably better when going forward. Together, by sharing our talents, our experiences and our knowledge, it is still possible to improve our environment, our living conditions, and our development. After all, Man is a social animal. A thinking animal who organizes itself around a collective: the community.

A few years ago, upon reading a very good book about Africa, I was struck by two short sentences expressed by a person named Sobonfu Somé. He said: “Without community, the individual has nowhere to contribute. Community is a place where roots are put down and where people come to share and receive gifts.” I took note of these sentences and kept them. I like the very simple, yet very straightforward way of expressing the structural and significant function of the collective for mankind. Yes, we are all different and that’s good: this stems from the infinite wealth of our collective – whether it is our community, our village or our cooperative network.

 

Colette Lebel, agr.
Director Cooperative Affairs
and Board Secretary Assistant
La Coop fédérée
Email: colette.lebel@lacoop.coop
Fax: 514 850-2567
 



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