From Competition to Cooperation - 2

By Matthieu Ricard on January 06, 2013

I am more and more convinced that altruism is not a luxury. It is not merely a noble sentiment that we apply only when things go well. It has become a necessity. Greater consideration for others is how we will be able to solve the challenges of today in the short-term for the economy, subsequently applied to living standards, and in the long run to the environment.

Cooperation must be preferred over competition. Altruistic people must cooperate and work together. Then they will have the advantage over selfish people, who will always fight amongst themselves.

Not everyone can become altruistic. Therefore, those who are altruistic must make the rules of the game in order for those who are selfish to have a stake in behaving for the common good, as if they were altruistic. An enlightened regulation of the economic system is therefore what is needed, not a laissez-faire attitude such as individualists advocate.

A society in which people do not cooperate with each other is bound to collapse. We cannot indefinitely use others as if they were objects. A society entirely based on profit completely loses its human dimension.

We must also open our eyes to the way animals are used as instruments; they are no longer considered as living beings, but as agricultural products, as meat machines. With industrial animal farming, we have reached a point of total inhumanity. A billion and a half animals are killed each year in terrible conditions in France alone. Their short lives are a never-ending process of death and suffering. Take a look at the remarkable documentary Earthlings* that clearly shows how indifferently we treat animals.

Can we still possibly keep our eyes closed? Maybe one day, Wells' futuristic vision will become a reality: ‟No meat on Utopia's round planet. There used to be meat, before. But today, we can no longer stand the idea of slaughterhouses… I still remember how happy I was, as a child, when the last slaughterhouse was closed.”

* Earthlings, directed by Shaun Monson, available at