“From the banks of India’s River, and a village called Antoli, comes the story of the domestic cow and the wild leopard that sought its affection.
“The leopard crept through the sugar cane one October night, seeming to search for something. She found a cow tied in a field, the way villagers kept their livestock in this dusty farming community. The cat didn’t harm the cow, but villagers worried about its predatory instincts, since they, too, were sometimes in the field at night. They asked the Forest Department to remove the leopard to a wildlife sanctuary nearby.
“And so the trappers came, and found themselves observers of an unexpected interaction. Wildlife conservationist Rohit Vyas of Gujarat DState was involved in several attempts to capture the leopard. The cat returned to the area nightly, often many times a night, but not as a predator sniffing out a warm meal. Instead, she came to be embraced. She approached the cow tentatively, rubbed her head against the cow’s head, then settled against her body. The cow would lick the cat, starting with her head and neck, cleaning whatever she could reach as the cat wriggled in apparent delight.
“If the cow was asleep when the cat arrived, the visitor would gently awaken her with a nuzzle to the leg before lying down and pressing close. Other cattle stood nearby, but the leopard ignored them. The chosen cow seemed pleased to give the leopard her nightly bath. For almost two months, the cat showed up around eight in the evening and cuddled with the cow until the first hint of sunrise-as if hiding heir strange tryst from the glare of day.
“When word of the animals’ bond got out, villagers became less afraid of the leopard and no longer worried about its capture. They were also surprised to see improved crop yields. Apparently, the big cat was preying on wild pigs, monkeys, and jackals that usually devoured as much as a third of the farmers’ harvest.
The cat stayed away for several weeks. Then on the last night the animals were seen together, the leopard visited nine times before wandering away from her friend for good. Who would have expected a carnivore and predator like a leopard to show love and affection toward its prey?”
In this animal story by Jennifer S. Holland, and so many more she has written, is a model as uncommon to the marketplace as it is to the jungle. Yet, in one jungle or another the opportunity to come together – for the good of all – is prescient if not a glimpse into a prodigious market model less equipped of the attitude and tools of war and more the forbearance of the dove.
In the model of Altruistic Economics, a network of “care” is the primary motivator, and not money or power, at least not in the usual sense. When both parties “care” to accomplish what is agreed to as “better,” the selfless devotion to that goal trumps money and power, favoring collaborative and equitable gain as agreed upon.
In this model the customer sets the price according to its agreed upon value to him. If the seller disagrees, he moves on to find another with his sense of the value for his offerings. The gain is in helping to prepare something of value to more than one or two, and is manifest in the behavior of both going forward. The popular movie “Pay it Forward” is an example.
Most suggest that help for another is a desired goal. We freely give it to our children and at times to close friends. If the marketplace were seen as an extension of this ethic might the next visit to a local store find you overwhelmed by a sense of belonging to that store owner’s “purpose” in helping you satisfy your need, and not just passing on product he too wishes were better quality.
Imagine a produce manager interrupting your fingering of the tomatoes on display in January, only to suggest that in this season the large tomatoes were best used for sauce and not for slicing or salads?
In such a trading model, the requests of the most generous (caring) among us would be met first, a reward system not unlike the “leopard and the cow.”