Daily Practice: A Weekly Reminder 11/12/2023

In our hymnal, Singing the Living Tradition, reading #468, by George Odell, is this: “We need one another when we mourn and would be comforted. We need one another when we are in trouble and afraid. We need one another when we are in despair, in temptation, and need to be recalled to our best selves again. We need one another when we would accomplish some great purpose and cannot do it alone. We need one another in the hour of success, when we look for someone to share our triumphs. We need one another in the hour of defeat, when with encouragement we might endure, and stand again. We need one another when we come to die, and would have gentle hands prepare us for the journey. All our lives we are in need, and others are in need of us.”

This is a beautiful description of interdependence! If, as we considered last Sunday, we need to acknowledge more fully the facts of our deep and complex biological interdependence, we also need to understand our social interdependence as well. We are, biologically, “wired for connection,” and this need informs and affects how we relate to other people. If we strongly value interdependence, then we also value learning how to live more interdependently. After generations of the veneration of individuality as the highest value, and now recognizing the damage that veneration has caused to the social ties which support us all, it is important begin to take the well-being of the whole community into account as much as the well-being of each individual.

This is the truth at the heart of the South African / Zulu philosophy of Ubuntu: “I am a person through other persons. My humanity is tied to yours. I am because we are.” This week for daily practice, consider listing, reciting, cataloging each day the ways in which your humanity depends on others. (Not just your life, but your humanity). Consider being intentional about practicing interdependence. Re-read the piece by George Odell several times, and see if it helps you in this practice. Then let’s share what we learn.