Culture, has systematically conformed majority of the 7.6 billion human beings living in the world today to think and behave as if we are separate individuals; individuals who are competing with each other for scarce resources, especially money. We imagine that we can make it alone, and we have set boundaries between ourselves and other human beings; and between ourselves and nature.
The true position, however, is that life is full of interconnections which we do not pay attention to most of the time. Everything and everyone in the universe is interconnected, interdependent and interrelated. We are not solitary creatures, but social creatures. Everything we do revolves around somebody or something else, and we share a destiny with each other. As examples, to be born involves a father and a mother, to marry involves a spouse and the relatives, to be sick involves doctors and nurses, none of us can bury themselves after death.
The interconnections become evident when we share one another’s sorrows during times such as of natural calamities like cyclones, tsunamis, and earthquakes; or during the sickness, or death of a mutual acquaintance. Such calamities make us become emotionally interconnected regardless of our diverse cultures, races, religions, philosophies, perspectives or the physical distance between us. They also become evident when we share joy during times such as when ware celebrating successes and wins.
The make-up of our good character, thoughts, and success is determined by everyone who has ever done a kind deed for us, or spoken words of encouragement to us; someone cared about us and supported us when we needed help, when we were sad or injured, or when we were unable to do things on our own.
In addition to being interconnected and interdependent with other people, we are also interconnected and interdependent with nature and the ecosystem for the things we need to keep us alive; we are interdependent with the Earth and with all its life-forms, including the microbes that break down waste, or the microbes that we depend upon to live because they help us to digest the food that we eat and to support our immune system. Nothing in nature exists in isolation, whether animate or inanimate, including the rocks, mountains, lions, and ants.
And because of this reason, our deeds influence others and their environment; the same way that the deeds of others influence us and our environment. When one pollutes the air, we all breathe it; when one poisons the oceans, we drink the polluted water. Each of us as individuals contributes to global self-destructive problems such as climate change, pollution, resource depletion, poverty, and hunger.
We, therefore, have to consider how our actions affect the rest of the universe. How we relate with our family, friends, neighbors and co-workers can either positively or negatively affect issues such as human relations, school performance, public health, crime rate, community development, suicide rate, economic productivity, and even human happiness and well being.
All the above notwithstanding, there is nothing wrong when we spend time alone or when we find our own happiness. Being alone helps us to understand our own worth and also why it is important to take responsibility for our lives, which in turn helps us to comprehend our place in the interconnected world. Only then are we able to realize that we have a stake in one another; only then can we see ourselves in all things, including objects, people, places, and experiences.
The awareness of our interconnectedness and our interdependence with others makes us to see the importance of spending our time with others and the importance of thinking and acting selflessly. When we find our own happiness, peace and love, we are then able to share these with others; we start thinking and acting in ways that aren’t focused on ourselves. When we grow out of our egocentricity and selfishness, we seek to not burden others and to help those in need. When we do this, the others will reciprocate and will be there to take care of us when we need them.
The thoughts, words, prayers, blessings, and deeds that flow from an awareness of our interconnectedness with others then transforms us to become characterized by respect, friendliness, empathy, appreciation, gratitude, goodwill, warmth, kindness and compassion; all of which are universal positive qualities that are inherent in our being.
Awareness of our interconnectedness converts us into people who continually make accommodation as we confront issues relating to the needs and wants of others. Such awareness creates, among and between us, friendships, sharing, generosity, satisfaction, happiness, cooperation, appreciation, unity, harmony, conflict resolution, trust and success.
In conclusion, it is clear that although we experience our self, thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest, this is a delusion which restricts us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. It is obvious that we all share a planet on which we depend for survival. Life is better when we are happy, but life is at its best when others are happy because of us. It is, therefore, important that we shed off our fears, hurts, greed, hatred, and our desperate clinging to the illusion that we are separate and alone. We should be faithful in touching the hearts of others. We should be an inspiration. We should realize that nothing in nature lives for itself; the rivers do not drink their own water, the trees do not eat their own fruits, the sun does not shine for itself, and flowers do not spread their fragrance for themselves. Living for others is a rule of nature. This realization will allow us to begin to live for others and to see others as ourselves; honoring them, wishing them well, and opening to their pain with love, kindness, compassion, acceptance, tolerance, empathy and forgiveness.
By restoring the broken connections with a clear intention, a sincere heart, and a willing spirit, we will experience the healing, joy and freedom that arises when we recognize our common humanity with others.