Optimality, Kropotkin, and Biodiversity, Costa Rica

What has always upset me in this world is the obsession on zero-sum games where there can only be one winner and that winner takes it all. It is strictly binary, 1 or 0. And people seem to replicate and actively seek out this “story” and “narrative” all the time, even in notions of "good and evil". Do we only have 2 choices in this world really? This binary frightens me more than all these violence (from all political sides) overly played out in popular media today. Why cannot we seek win-win scenarios? Cannot politics be pareto optimal? Cannot we seek and focus on solutions that maximize benefit/s for all, instead of strategizing to cause losses to rivals in retribution? Nobody seems to even want to negotiate anything these days: "it is either you are FOR or AGAINST us". I think the only way to end a fight is to stop fighting. Stopping the fight does not mean walking out of the discussion table and going to sleep. Not at all. It means actively working out possible fair solutions.

Being trapped in a binary is a suffocating condition that limits our time and energy that we could use to think of ways we could cooperate instead. Fear is a root cause of panic, of thinking haphazardly, of losing our sense of “center/ balance/ kindness/ cooperation”, of taking sides and not listening. And unfortunately, this is aggravated by traumatic histories, economic insecurity, ignorance, and yes the lower mind.

We came back from Costa Rica fairly impressed by what they have achieved over their contiguous territory: 98% renewable energy, engaged population (the people has just successfully demonstrated against plans of delaying the retirement age) quite peacefully; hectares of successfully protected forest-scapes and marine-scapes; strictly implemented water rights planning; 10% tax that includes health care and pension. We did not see any beggars in Guanacaste. Maybe it is different in San Jose, but if I was to draw conclusions on their society based on the palpable ecology of animals and plants, I believe they have closely struck a healthy “balance”.

Even around Liberia airport, one can hear the cacophony of birds and insects. Nothing seems to have the immediate advantage over the other. There are varieties of bright coloured butterflies even on the beaches hovering around the shallow parts of the shore. A number of Pelicans thrive and hang around the boats. All species seem to be in check by other species, even the humans themselves... (We woke up in the middle of one night to a smell of a skunk. It was not the best idea to leave our balcony door open over night.)

Social Darwinism is a dangerous place. It claims that human society is competitive as if we live in a jungle of scarcity and we have to “fight” to claim our niche. Bullshit. Darwin’s idea of competition is among different species. And the concept of “race” is socially constructed. The human male is more closely related genetically to a chimpanzee than to a human female.

"It was an evolutionary emphasis on cooperation instead of competition in the Darwinian sense that made for the success of species, including the human." – Petr Kropotkin

So I am far from giving into this obsession on binaries, although mathematically it seems to be the easiest way to program and create an “image” of the world. We have been misleading ourselves that we have to fight all the time and that we are in this constant "battlefield". Cooperation does not mean you do not fight a righteous fight and for "right/s". On the contrary, it means the very destruction of the "enemy" through humility and kindness. Cooperation is everywhere in nature, it is just as natural as competition, just as natural as symbiosis. Cooperation is discernment. In mindsets of cooperation, Intelligence lies. And where there is Intelligence, there is Kindness, and a hope for Peace.

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