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Does anything exist in isolation?

There are conceivably these webs of causality that trail around the globe, linking abstract or disparate realities through time and space into these intricate relationships of meaning and consequence. It seems true of history, geology, human civilisation in all its forms. This sense in which all things are related, building upon one another and what’s gone before into this complex picture of what life is.

Like the butterfly’s wing, in that small and seemingly insignificant actions can develop into something far more note-worthy. Yet the nature of our thinking seems to be that we take things in isolation, wanting to forget that’s never really the case (see Notes One). As soon as we’re taking anything out of the realm of theory it’s having to make its way through convoluted realities we may or may not see coming.

And I’m aware writing this that it’s a thought we’re often encouraged not to think. Arguably, it might make us feel depressed and powerless at the nature of existence: the complexity of these collective interwoven systems we can barely hope to understand, let alone influence. But if it’s true that everything’s connected and all our actions ‘come home’ somewhere, might it be a mistake not to think about it?

These days, those complex interconnections are in many ways becoming more apparent: technology, in attempting to remaster them, is effectively also bringing them to light alongside the realities they’re creating for the natural, political, and interpersonal world (Notes Two). It might not be at all easy to wrap our head around these systems we’re all part of, but it doesn’t seem something that’s wise to ignore.

It’s undeniably challenging to approach that modern reality of an interconnected world with no-where to hide. The past or present, all their good intentions and questionable courses of action, are laid bare for scrutiny from all angles. The world can be a relentless critic, especially given there’s no shared moral code at that level: we often act within our community, but might be judged by quite other standards.

Which I imagine is why modern life can seem this incredible tremor underneath everything everyone held to be true? It’s this re-evaluation of how we’re living. We’ve been acting in ways that impact others emotionally, socially, economically; with consequences often conveniently invisible or justifiable through the single lens of personal or national perspectives. The internet questions that security by asking how we relate to the whole.

How we might build the kind of understanding that can navigate such a world is an intriguing thought (Notes Three). Each society or culture has its narratives, its beliefs about what matters and what’s acceptable within the scope of its reality. Attitudes that might be firmly or loosely held, malleable or vehemently insisted upon. The complexity of a person or society aren’t easy to unravel.

Dealing with that complexity – embracing it, even – and working through all it takes to understand, appreciate, accommodate, and cooperate with one another can seem, at times, overwhelming or compelling.

Notes and References:

Note 1: Strange arrogance of thought
Note 1: David Bohm, thoughts on life
Note 2: Cutting corners
Note 2: The web and the wider world
Note 3: Ideas around education & responsibility
Note 3: What’s a reasonable response?
Note 3: The philosopher stance

Thoughts around the standards we live by were explored in both Codes of behaviour and What is acceptable?

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