Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans


The final remark in yesterday’s blog wondered whether life and relationships are all about reciprocity. That remark struck a nerve inside me because reciprocity even has its own blog label since late 2015. Nevertheless, I viewed reciprocity as human interaction. I failed to see its relation with balance & symmetrysymbiosis and perhaps also dualism & trialism.

I’m wondering if reciprocity is something like a fundamental force of nature. Ultimately everything seems related to reciprocity, including cause and effect. The Universe did not become a void with random scattered objects. It shows galaxies, solar systems and voids, like a reverse Swiss cheese. The scientific explanation is probably gravity. Perhaps reciprocity plays another role.

The above considerations might be a little vague. Reciprocity is most clear in human interaction: “If you scratch my back then I’ll scratch yours“, “Live and let live“, “Give a little, take a little“, “I owe you one” and “Quid pro quo“. Reciprocity governs human interactions although we refer to it as assistance, cooperation, collaboration, participation, etc. (Thesaurus).

In Asian cultures, reciprocity is still visible in families where adult children (must) take care of their old-age parents (eg, Independent-2013NYT-2014Psychology Today-2017). In general, young children (might) listen to their parents because parents provide food and shelter. The same reciprocity principle applies to animal life.

In particular, some animals like ants, bees, wasps and termites show “eusociality, the highest level of organization of sociality”. Its characteristics are: “cooperative brood care [], overlapping generations within a colony of adults, and a division of labor into reproductive and non-reproductive groups”. Also see these studies: 2003 ResearchGate2010 NCBI and 2014 Wiley Online.

Evidencing reciprocity is not easy, especially in the common absence of a tit-for-tat. Reciprocity often transcends time and space (eg, later, somewhere else). The human body is the ultimate example: about 30 trillion cells (might) cooperate on the basis of reciprocity.

Non-living objects also show signs of reciprocity. I’m always amazed seeing how water tries to stick together. Individual water drops do exactly the same: they stick together. The same can be argued for rocks and mountains. It seems that any whole is always more than the sum of its parts. If not then why stick together?

Excerpt fromThe Analects“, attributed to Confucius (551-479 BCE), by Lao-Tse (601-531 BCE), translated by James Legge (1815-1897):

Tsze-kung asked, saying, “Is there one word which may serve as a rule of practice for all one’s life?” The Master said, “Is not RECIPROCITY such a word? What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.” (USC)

Let’s Stick Together (1976) by Bryan Ferry

artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

Note: all markings (bolditalicunderlining) by LO unless stated otherwise


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