Here are some previous thoughts on the subject of Cooperation. When you have finished on this page, click Back to look at other topics.


South Korean scientists have developed a robot thatís able to think and learn like a human. What gives it this ability, distinguishing it from earlier models whose intelligence capabilities are largely fixed, is that it can respond to information from elsewhere. A high-speed wireless network links it to its server. Itís no longer alone. It can use information stored elsewhere to know how to deal with new stimuli and interact with people and the environment.

The word Ďnetworkingí has come to refer to a particular human process but in fact it describes almost every worthwhile human activity. People who try to go it alone are in danger of becoming severely limited in their responses, indeed almost robotic. What gives us much of our humanity and individuality is our ability to respond to, and learn from, other people.

St Paul used the image of the human body to describe the importance of this. When human beings are linked together as are human limbs and parts, we discover the value of each other. When we are able to draw on the strengths each particular person has, we are able to experience the best of being human. This is especially so, as far as he is concerned, when it is Christís Spirit or personality which energises the whole network.

Letís today delight in the variety of different relationships we have and in what we give and receive in each one. What we learn from and enjoy in other people is so often what makes us feel alive.


The quack of London ducks is apparently much louder and more raucous than that of their country cousins in Cornwall. So says English language lecturer at Middlesex University, Victoria de Rijke. "The Cornish ducks make longer and more relaxed sounds, much more chilled out. The cockney quack is like a shout and a laugh, whereas the Cornish ducks sound much gentler." she said. She puts the difference down to the environment. "London ducks have the stress of city life and a lot of noise to compete with, like sirens, horns, planes and trains. They need to shout so their fellow birds can hear them above the hubbub."

Environment can also have a major effect on human beings, affecting more than just the way we speak. Our homes, our place of work, the area where we live, all affect our physical and emotional well-being. Perhaps the most important factor though is the people we live and work with. They can make life hellish or sweet, according to how they choose to treat us and their behaviour generally.

Letís today give extra thought to the way we are contributing to the environment we share with others. It would be good if even city-dwellers were able to create for each other more of that gentler, less stressful lifestyle apparently enjoyed by Cornish ducks.


In Gashora, Rwanda, where the slaughter ten years ago was intense, a remarkable game of football took place recently. About 2,000 Hutus and a similar number of Tutsis had come to watch a team of 11 confessed Hutu killers play a team of 11 Tutsi survivors. On the clearing a football pitch had been marked out, a dry, grassless pitch splattered with large cakes of cow dung and goats' droppings.

In Gashora, Rwanda, where the slaughter ten years ago was intense, a remarkable game of football took place recently. About 2,000 Hutus and a similar number of Tutsis had come to watch a team of 11 confessed Hutu killers play a team of 11 Tutsi survivors. On the clearing a football pitch had been marked out, a dry, grassless pitch splattered with large cakes of cow dung and goats' droppings.

It was completely surrounded by people, three lines dense. One might, at the very least, have expected an unusually bad-tempered match. But far from it. After each foul the perpetrator instantly and with a sharp bow, apologised. No bad blood. No edge, on or off the pitch. Good humour prevailed, and lots of laughter, as if a circus had come to town.

The game was the brainchild of Aloisea Inyumba, a small, sweet-natured but passionately driven woman who was now governor of Kigali province and had previously chaired the National Reconciliation Commission, perhaps the most difficult job ever devised. Imagination was required and, as she put it, "one of the best ideas we ever had" was to use football to bring Hutus and Tutsis together.

The Hutu prisoners lost the game, one-nil, and the Independentís reporter, John Carlin, asked one of the players, named Jean-Marie, whether it had been a fair result. "That is not important. The important thing is that we are playing. Most of all I am happy to have this chance to come together and be accepted by these people whose relatives we killed."

After the game, after the players had shaken hands, had he felt at all intimidated by the presence of so many of the people whose relatives he had helped to kill? "No, the people have accepted our repentance for the terrible things that we did and they have accepted us with good heart and good hospitality," Jean-Marie said.

Was this for real? Had people really forgiven the killers? Had the killers truly atoned for their crimes? John Carlin put these questions to Inyumba. "Well, you saw it for yourself", she replied. "Our approach as a government is that we must not dwell on the past. That can only poison things. We must do what is best for the future."

Perhaps today, if we are faced personally or from the news bulletins, with situations where reconciliation seems impossible, being aware of the resurrecting power of forgiveness such as this can give us hope.


In a tongue-in-cheek attempt to produce the first review of the new 870 page Harry Potter book, the Guardian set up a team. Six people would read a sixth each when it was published at midnight on Friday and their comments would be put together in time for Saturday morningís paper. Iím not sure how much each reader got out of their sixth. I expect they rather looked forward to reading what came earlier. It would help them understand better why the characters behaved the way they did.

When we begin to get to know people, friends of friends, or potential friends, or colleagues, all we see is a chunk of their lives. We donít know their past and we certainly donít know their future. As we get to know them better and learn about their past, we develop a clearer understanding of why they are how they are. Seeing people in their context usually leads to caring for them more.

The Guardian reading team was no doubt also glad to see how the story continued after the section they were allocated. So too, we take pleasure in seeing how the lives of our friends develop. But they are not living in a book and we are not viewing their future from a distance. We are part of the plot. How we relate to them, how we support and encourage them, the sort of things we choose to do together, all these will affect our friendsí futures.

Today, letís celebrate the part we play in each otherís lives and make sure the impact we have on others will contribute to a richer future for them.