This discussion is brilliant, and it is a potentially significant component of a user interface to a sustainability knowledgebase. It can be used in two ways: as an introduction, inviting the user to choose which of two approaches to use, which have different forms of explanation and relate things somewhat differently to each other, or it and its implications can be woven into the fabric of a single graphic and story-line user interface.
Modulating competition One reason it is important is that communities are made up both of people who 'just get along', and of people who organize their lives around being in charge, maximizing their own wealth and power. Both groups, or only one of them, can be charitable and idealistic, depending on the combination of genetics and life experience. Typically males seek to be in charge if they discover they have the ability to dominate; there is a drive to do this which is inherited from our common ancestor with the chimpanzees, and which has been reinforced by competition among communities for suitable territory and resources, and consequent warrior sub-cultures. This drive to dominate by 'alpha males' and their supporters (who seek to join the winning team) is the direct cause of war, patriarchy, and other forms of 'primal competition'. The underlying causes are competition for key nutrients and for the opportunity to reproduce.
One major modulator of this competition is the ability of individuals, especially but not exclusively females, to bring their feelings of love for their children and for the group to bear on their perceptions of the group process, and engage in peacemaking, and in building peer-based mutual support systems. The other major modulator is the extreme range of differences between ecosystems, requiring different strategies for survival which, in turn, demand specialization, and favoring trade of surpluses as the most efficient and least costly strategy for acquiring nutrients and other resources which are not provided by one or another ecosystem (or are deficient).
Peacemaking and mutual support systems In one incident described by Jane Goodall, a female in a London zoo would move between males who started making signs of aggression at each other from across the cage, go to one and start grooming him, and draw him a little way toward the other, then go to the other and do the same, and repeat until both males were on either side of her, grooming her, and the adrenaline and testosterone were discharged. The female was able to maintain a group psychology of solidarity, and got the added benefit of male reciprocation to her grooming them. She was able to prevent potential injury to (which would greatly increase the probability of early death, in the wild) or enduring antagonism toward a member of the group. So even a chimpanzee has the potential to be an effective peacemaker, under certain circumstances.
In another incident, in the wild, the dominant male chimpanzees in a group monopolized food in a human garbage dump and were all poisoned as a result. After their deaths the remaining males and females in the group were mutually supportive; none of the surviving males seriously attempted to recreate the dominant-male roles. They all chose to live peacefully and cooperatively. (I don't remember the source, just seeing the video.)
Our mystical, spiritual and / or religious heritage and direct experiences teach us to distinguish our drives which lead to conflict and destruction from those which nurture, build community bonds, and heal, as well as motivating stewardship of nature. If a captive female chimpanzee can do it, we can too! Human culture is built on loving children, and teaching them stories which motivate them to identify with each other and their community as not separate from themselves, and to seek to contribute consciously to the well-being of all the people and all the nature around them. In order to contribute, they are taught to rely on the lore of the culture and their specific group to guide them as a concept map, which is also a literal mental geographic map, because all the stories are told as occurring in specific places which are part of their lives. This has been diluted in large scale agriculture-based economies, but it is the foundation of permanent mutual support systems, which is what villages are, in essence, for most people.
Many cultures have found how to live in peace with each other; many others moved along a scale from war through occasional raids through truce, over time. Tibetan Buddhists, in particular, developed a science of the human psyche, which has been used to create practices for teaching people how to 'come from a space of' compassion and altruism. With participation and funding from His Holiness the Dalai Lama, this has been in incorporated into a curriculum by the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) at Stanford University's School of Medicine. The CCARE curriculum has been instituted at more than 2000 schools so far, so it is obviously successful.
Other healing curricula exist, including the ethnic studies programs at Cabrillo College, Aptos, California (community college level, or lower tertiary), and (formerly) in Phoenix, Arizona, which was banned and is the subject of a court fight to get it reinstated (K-12, or primary and secondary). The ethnic studies curricula enable students to feel empowered in life, motivating them to exercise their natural abilities as scholars and leaders, which had been denied by the dominant culture. They become able to relate lovingly with each other and anyone who does not oppress them, and to use community organizing and the law to fight those who seek to dominate them. They report that this is a profoundly liberating process, and their test scores and graduation rates reflect the difference it makes in their identities.
An opportunity exists to incorporate both types of process, CCARE and ethnic studies, into a new, empowering overall pedagogy and curriculum resource, adapting them to each distinct culture and ecosystem, to reintegrate people with each other and with nature.
Differences between ecosystems Ecosystems are extremely varied across the Earth. There are 867 (plus or minus 50) eco-regions, which are areas containing distinct sets of ecosystems with strong consistency. There are many thousands of specific ecosystems at specific places. Human cultures co-evolved with the ecosystems and eco-regions which they inhabited, over a few to many tens of thousands of years. Each culture selected the most effective strategies for survival for the demands of its ecosystem(s), embedding them in both rules for living and the language itself. Many, if not most or all, cultures engaged in trade of surpluses as the most efficient strategy for acquiring nutrients (most famously salt) and other resources (such as flint, obsidian, or decorative pigments or ornaments) which are deficient or unavailable in their ecosystems.
Identification with one's community, nature, and collective spirituality as a coherent system of meaning and value, and success in those terms, was the main contributor to psychological stability everywhere on Earth until warfare and colonialism disrupted local cultures. In the last 500 years the entire fabric, including the ecosystems, has been damaged, or even shredded, throughout the industrialized and colonized worlds, and global climate change threatens to multiply the damage to ecosystems, which could be the final blow to most remaining rural and wild-land cultures. Yet the fundamental causes of the diversity of ecosystems remain -- climate, soil types, micro-nutrients, and interactions among the remaining species. These fundamentals create a relatively strong potential for rehabilitating habitats and either restoring species which are only locally extinct, or supporting (if necessary) a process of selection of alternatives to extinct species for the unoccupied ecological niches.
With the introduction of mobile smart-phones, and the web-server or local client-server model, it becomes possible to bring education and coordination resources to communities which can enable them to improve agricultural yields, and to level the playing field with buyers, who currently exploit them mercilessly, generally offering only what it actually costs to grow the crops, while the final selling price in a city might be 20 to 100 times the price paid for the crop. (This universal practice, exacerbated by colonialism, has broken rural economies around the world, and led to the unprecedented migrations to cities.)
The combination of smart-phones and servers can also display the surpluses and deficits of specific macro- and micro-nutrients, and plants and animals which can provide them, for each eco-region and ecosystem, and each community's traditional territorial boundaries, in a geographic information system which also supports digital earth imaging. This, coupled with a variety of computing services embedded in a knowledgebase, enables people to see their situation strategically, and form networks of support with people in other communities who see their own situations as related, so that they can mutually empower each other as agents of the Invisible Revolution, for the purpose of managing the relevant resources for the benefit of all.
This information, along with total needed and desired demand levels for each community, can also be entered into a computerized supply chain system, which can use algorithms, agreed upon by the communities involved, to help allocate surpluses a) to the closest point of deficit and b) farther as needed to ensure that all in the region are covered, with consideration for c) the most efficient and least costly logistics for distribution. The surplus over and above the amounts needed to meet these needs becomes available for sale to towns and cities, with sufficient economic strength to cut unscrupulous buyers out of the distribution chain, and demand fair prices which allow rebuilding rural economies.
The same information can be used to plan the overall stewardship of the eco-region, mapping information on where specific interventions are appropriate (e.g. non-disruptive for other species in the plant and animal micro-community) for increasing resource yields.
This approach decisively reduces the behavioral drivers for competition, by reducing the fundamental contribution of insecurity to seeing other as competitors for limited, important resources. Bucky Fuller wrote and talked about this -- it was his key mission.