“No society of nations, no people within a nation, no family can benefit through mutual aid unless good will exceeds ill will; unless the spirit of cooperation surpasses antagonism; unless we all see and act as though the other man’s welfare determines our own welfare” (Henry Ford II).
EVERYBODY WANTS TO “FARE WELL” IN LIFE, BUT NOT EVERYBODY SEEKS THE “WELFARE” OF OTHERS. Yet these two can hardly be separated. When it is “dog eat dog” and “every man for himself,” nobody fares well for very long. Unless people are willing to seek each other’s welfare, life degenerates into intolerable enmity. As Henry Ford II points out, the spirit of cooperation must surpass that of antagonism. We must understand that our welfare depends, to a very great extent, on whether our neighbors are faring well.
Helping one another’s needs. Relationships, organizations, and communities thrive when people help people. If anybody has a need somebody else can help with, everybody benefits when that need is taken care of. Certainly, we don’t want to help people in ways that enervate them or sap their initiative, for our purpose is to encourage and empower. But still, we need to help one another whenever we can.
Building opportunity for everybody. When privileged or powerful groups keep others from moving upward, they eventually destroy themselves. But when everybody works for conditions of maximum opportunity for every participant, the relationship itself prospers. Life is not a zero-sum game. Your gain is not my loss — it’s my gain too.
Advancing the common good. When we commit ourselves to the welfare of those around us, certain sacrifices will be necessary. There will be times when I’ll need to exercise restraint and self-discipline for the common good. If getting what I want for myself would not be good for the group of which I’m a part, then I must restrain my will.
In the highest sense, it is love that moves us to seek the welfare of those around us, and if our love does not move us in this direction, we need to question what kind of love we have. And true love doesn’t work just for the benefit of friends — it labors for the benefit of all. Whoever you may be, I can’t love you and not desire your highest good.
“[Love] is rather a condition of the heart and will that causes us to seek the welfare of others — including people we don’t particularly like, and even people who have done us harm” (Louis Cassels).