Much as we might talk of six degrees of separation between individuals, we could probably now draw in the ties between any two people on this planet. Whether it’s links of trade or development between governments and businesses or our respective representations in an increasingly globalised culture, there’s perhaps fairly little that separates us in terms of the impacts we’re having and ideas we have in mind about one another.
Isn’t there very little we don’t have some kind of idea about? Whether those thoughts come from education, the media or culture, there’s this sense in which our views on life are formed and we’re carrying these preconceived notions about how things work, who people are and what we should think about them (Notes One).
Then, in terms of trade, aren’t we pretty much all now connected in some shape or form? Don’t our consumer decisions all converge to represent significant economic, social and environmental realities all across the globe? These waves of consumption and production dramatically shifting the power, influence and oppression of different segments of this global society we’re all living within (Notes Two).
It’s fascinating how our relatively separate and limited national societies rapidly expanded into this truly global, interconnected reality. Something that presumably used to be very real, lived, known and understood having become this vast, slightly abstract, hidden sense of community that’s having such considerable consequences on so many levels.
Hasn’t community always been based on relationship? This sense of how people are connected; ways their lives and activities intersect to provide all that society needs; the stories we’re told to ensure we understand and stay committed to that collective reality (Notes Three). Society being formed of distinct individuals, it’s surely important we value the roles we’re all playing within that larger picture.
So maybe it’s only natural we struggle to understand and, therefore, appreciate how we fit into this new picture. It’s a difficult reality to get your head around; particularly when life’s changing for everyone in important, distracting and often painful ways (Notes Four). And isn’t appreciation almost always based on understanding, on truth?
In order to see what’s going on, don’t we need to open our minds beyond our preconceived notions – to suspend our own ideas and put ourselves in another’s shoes to really see where they’re coming from and what life’s asking of them? Yet, these days, the self looms so large on almost everyone’s horizons. The pace and nature of modern life seems to insist we take, develop and hold to our own perspective on things.
Standing in true relationship to one another seems such a beautiful thing: seeing and appreciating who people are, the values they’re living by, what motivates and inspires them beyond any superficial labels placed upon them. But getting to know people takes time and interest; things we don’t actually seem to have.
Rather than dividing ourselves up into mutually incomprehensible groups, couldn’t we somehow extend ourselves to connect meaningfully with the humanity beneath it all?
Notes and References:
Note 1: How ideas find their place in the world
Note 1: Frameworks of how we relate
Note 1: Powerful responsibility of a media voice
Note 1: Culture as what we relate to
Note 1: Seeing, knowing and loving
Note 2: What we create by patterns of behaviour
Note 2: Interdependency
Note 3: Community – what it was, what we lost
Note 3: Culture as a conversation across time
Note 3: Mastering life’s invisible realities
Note 3: Knowing who to trust
Note 4: Does being alone amplify things?
Note 4: Overwhelm and resignation
Note 4: Life’s never been simpler…