by Ernie Dunn
As I survey and reflect on conditions in our country, in our world today, I have an uneasy feeling that the interdependence inferred in the statement above is becoming a lost art. Any time you turn on the evening news or tune into social/political/economic commentaries, you will find little evidence of leaders and nations being guided by a sense of the need for interdependent living. Rather you are exposed to the consequences of the lack thereof: wide-spread political and social unrest and upheaval. In many countries, topics such as immigration, equal pay for equal work, religious freedom, to cite just a few, have caused proponents and opponents to draw lines in the sand and engage in verbal and, at times, physical confrontation. It is us against them.
It has been proposed that much of this divisive engagement emanates from fear. To quote one author, "fear lies behind every problem." A critical survey of the global violence and unrest suggests that some of this fear arises from resistance to change, the unwillingness to face the subsequent unknowns, the potential discomfort, or the alternatives that may come into play as a consequence, e. g. loss of a position of privilege. Consequently, what we see at work is a power-inspired human preference for the status quo over anything else, and the lack of real concern for the many who are being victimized by that preference. A genuine sense of mutual reliance, the recognition of the indivisible family that is humanity is oft times put aside.
“Why should we care for you?”
“Whatever has happened to you is your own fault; whatever needs to be done to alleviate the situation is your responsibility.”
A pressing ideology of the day is an idolatry of self sufficiency and exclusion. Often the result is ruthless repression, resulting in insensitivity and injustice.
In response, Karen Armstrong contends "we can either emphasize those aspects of our traditions, religious and secular, that speak of hatred and exclusion or work with those that stress the interdependence of all human beings." The choice is ours. Taking note of her advice and choosing the latter, I believe the task before us is to cope with, better yet, celebrate our interdependence. We should not seek to escape the necessity for beneficial care of each other. We should see ourselves reflected in every other person and to respect and honor our differences. I think Gandhi said it best: "Civilization is the encouragement of our differences."
We should recognize and appreciate the holistic interdependence of our humanity for "we are a gift that is given to us by the ones we love. For the very person that we are today has come through the influences of those who have nurtured, taught, inspired, challenged, and supported us." (Peter Rollins)
We are both gift givers and receivers - interdependence.