Morality and Competition

There are few things I hear more while working with couples who are post-separation, and pre-divorce, than opinions of their ex-spouses’ moral qualities. Usually they are not exactly pleasant, and words like “horrible”, “incorrigible” and other phrases inciting images that they somehow managed to be coupled with the spawn of Satan. However, I believe that some of these ideas on the tenets of morality can get skewed by perception of the moment. Given my  theory of competition, I considered how some of these skews can originate in the competitive environment of separation.

I saw this particular video and thought of how morality can be applied within the context of environmental aspects of our relationships. How chimps and other animals can exhibit acts of coordination and resolution to conflict inspires both hope and pragmatic examples of how we as humans can use our competitive instincts to their fullest potential. While the act of competition can be fierce and violent, it is the following events of repairing relationships which animals have learned that to bolster their society for future interactions. Can we learn the same?

What would happen if after every time we fought, we learned to comfort ourselves and our partners, so that the next argument would not be tinged with prior resentments and hatred? Perhaps even learned to coordinate our efforts even when it is not our immediate aims at hand? Some may say that this is a pipe dream. I call it reality. We do that in relationships constantly. All the time. In every moment, of every day, we do exactly this type of reformative work in a relationships to make them worthwhile and hopefully do some damage control at times as well. Remembering how we coordinate with one another both on large, macro-levels of interactions: communities, societies, and nations can remind us that we also coordinate these relationships on much smaller levels: families, couples, and even within ourselves.

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