Cooperation, like love and friendship, is something you get by giving.

There are many travelers on the road that leads to happiness. You will need their cooperation, they will need yours.

And there will be other generations after ours. Their lot in life will depend largely on the inheritance we leave to them. We must become bridge-builders, not only for the present generation but for generations yet unborn. And we must build for them in the spirit of the old man about who the poet wrote:

The Bridge Builder

An old man going a lone highway,
Came, in the evening cold and gray,
To a chasm vast and deep and wide.
Through which was flowing a sullen tide
The old man crossed in the twilight dim,
The sullen stream had no fear for him;
But he turned when safe on the other side
And built a bridge to span the tide.

“Old man,” said a fellow pilgrim near,
“You are wasting your strength with building here;
Your journey will end with the ending day,
You never again will pass this way;
You’ve crossed the chasm, deep and wide,
Why build this bridge at evening tide?”

The builder lifted his old gray head;
“Good friend, in the path I have come,” he said,
“There followed after me to-day
A youth whose feet must pass this way.
This chasm that has been as naught to me
To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be;
He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;
Good friend, I am building this bridge for him!”

This spirit of unselfish teamwork will provide greater benefits for this generation, as well as help those yet to come. Thus, in serving as bridge-builders for future generations we shall be preparing ourselves for the better things of life which can come only through friendly cooperation.

If you use this philosophy for personal benefit, remember you owe something to those who will follow you. Remember, too, to build for them.

Such cooperation was a major contributing factor in the establishment and growth of the United States of America, and its unchallenged leadership in the world economy which developed a higher standard of living than ever known before. The American standard of living must go on; the system of free enterprise must be preserved; the American form of Republican government must be protected; its schools and churches must be given a firm foundation; its sources of financial income must be made secure for the benefit of those who will follow us, just as these have been preserved by those who have preceded us.

We are bound in a common cause, and no matter what misfortunes may overtake America, the burdens will fall heavily on the shoulders of each of us. We can lighten these burdens by acquiring and expressing the spirit of unselfish teamwork in all our relationships.

To paraphrase the sentiment expressed by Benjamin Franklin, “We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.”

Willing cooperation produces enduring power
While forced cooperation ends in failure.

The philosophy of Adolph Hitler, based on the principle of dividing and controlling, brought the Nazis to ruin and came dangerously close to wrecking our civilization. Let us remember this, and let us do something about it by adopting the unselfish philosophy of one for all and all for one.

Until we become inspired by this broad spirit of teamwork and recognize the oneness of all people and the fellowship of all mankind, we will not be in a position to benefit from the principle of cooperative effort. Greed and selfishness have no part in this spirit.

Source: PMA Science of Success by Napoleon Hill
*Title and Author of the poem were added and were not in the original text by Napoleon Hill. Napoleon Hill often used poems in his writings but the Author and Title were never included.

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