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 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 as evident.
For example, we humans host an ecosystem in our guts called the microbiome. That community consists of trillions of microbes that help digest food, extract nutrients, build or diminish the immune system, and inform the brain. 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.
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 about our struggling soils here.) Plants release oxygen, absorb carbon dioxide and have the ability to clean our toxic wastes. Our oceans’ seaweed is responsible for producing even more oxygen than land plants. (Both rainforests and oceans are referred to as the lungs of the planet.) Animals play an important role in controlling the population of other animals as well as inhibiting plant overgrowth. And domesticated animals, as you know, can provide us with wonderful companionship and unconditional love. By caring for all of life, we are interdependently supporting the soil, plants, oceans, and animals that sustain us.
In her book Symbiosis in Cell Evolution: Life and Its Environment on the Early Earth, microbiologist Lynn Margulis writes about an important process undertaken by ancient bacteria. About 2 billion years ago, she explains, bacteria covered our planet. To complete their life processes of respiration, photosynthesis, and fermentation, they utilized natural resources alongside other bacteria. When the number of bacteria increased, forcing resources to go further, the bacteria found themselves in crisis. Their once peaceful ways of living changed, fueled by the fear of scarcity. Many of them struggled. (Does this remind you of the human story?) Because it became evident that none of them would survive if this competitive 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 cooperatives known as nucleated cells.
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 separate, individual actions. ~CreationWiki
We were intelligently conceived to thrive in cooperation with all forms of life, including soil, plants, other animals, the ocean, and all of humankind. Now more than ever, understanding the concept of our interdependence with the whole, and living in a way that honors it, is needed to ensure our perpetuation on the planet.
Blessings for Embracing Interdependence,
The original version of this post was shared in November of 2020.
The content of this article is for educational and informational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice. Please consult with a qualified health care professional before acting on any information presented herein. Any statements about the possible health benefits of any subject discussed have not been evaluated by medical professionals or the Food & Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or illness.