The whole idea of compassion is based on a keen awareness of the interdependence of all living beings, which are all part of one another, and all involved in one another. ~Thomas Merton
Merriam-Webster.com defines the term interdependence as the state of being dependent upon one another. Examples are given for interdependent economies as well as little universes we call ecosystems. On a macro level, coronavirus has shown us just how interdependent we all are. On a micro level, the workings of this concept are not always so evident.
For example, we humans host an ecosystem in our guts called the microbiome. That community consists of up to 40,000 species of bacteria that help digest food, extract nutrients, build or diminish the immune system, and release waste products which inform the brain on mood and metabolism. The microbiome is interdependent with every other system in the body, a fact which should be considered when any kind of health issue or disease presents itself. (Learn how the microbiome can help with weight loss here.)
Similar to our hosting of this internal ecosystem, Nature hosts humans within an external ecosystem. We depend on soil, plants, the ocean, and animals for our basic needs. Soil, like our microbiome, is an ecosystem unto itself. The life in our soils determine the health of our plants. (Read more on our struggling but resilient soils here.) Plants release oxygen, absorb carbon dioxide and have the ability to clean our toxic wastes. (Check out this article for more on that.) Our oceans’ seaweed is responsible for producing even more oxygen than land plants. (Both rainforests and oceans have been referred to as the lungs of the planet.) Animals play an important role in the population control of other animals as well as inhibiting plant overgrowth. And domesticated animals, as you know, can provide us with companionship and unconditional love. By caring for our environment, we are interdependently supporting the soil, plants, ocean, and animals that sustain us.
In her book Symbiosis in Cell Evolution: Microbial Communities in the Archean and Proterozoic Eons, microbiologist Lynn Margulis writes about the process undertaken by ancient bacteria which resulted in their becoming interdependent. About 2 billion years ago, she explains, bacteria covered our planet. To complete their life processes of respiration, photosynthesis, and fermentation, they “fought” with other bacteria for natural resources. When the number of bacteria increased, forcing resources to go further, the bacteria found themselves in crisis, and began exploiting each other. Many died as a result. Because it became evident that none of them would survive if this competitive, abusive way of living continued, they realized the need for interdependence. Due to making a shift which was better for all, their kind is still around today, living in a cooperative known as the nucleated cell. Doesn’t that account, paused at the crisis, remind you of the human story?
According to creationwiki.org, The interdependence of biological systems offers strong evidence for intelligent design . . . They function synergistically in such a way that the sum of their actions is greater than the addition of the separate, individual actions. It’s pretty clear that we were intelligently created to coexist with soil, plants, other animals, the ocean, and all of humankind. Maybe this would be a good time to embrace our interdependence with the micro and the macro so that our kind might still be around for the next billion or so years.
Blessings for Embracing Interdependence,