Monday, December 31, 2012


Life is about relationships.

Relationships to people, to objects, to the environment, to food, animals, plants, the weather, etc, etc, etc.  Many would also argue it's about a relationship with divinity and other spiritual entities.  But it all comes down to the same basic sentence: Life is about relationships.

As a society, we are becoming increasingly severed from our relationships.  Most of us no longer have a relationship with the people at the drug store.  Many of us do not have a relationship with the farmer who grew the food on our table.  Even if we do, many of us don't have a relationship with the soil in which that food was grown.  We lack relationships to the majority of animals that we eat and also many of the animals that we encounter on a daily basis.  We have increasingly become a society that values material objects and the abstract concept of monetary wealth over all other relationships, and we have lost many of these relationships as a result.

Yet, there are movements to regain those relationships.  Those wishing to "Save the Environment" are really advocating for a recognition and rekindling of that particular relationship.  Farmer's market crowds frequent the market in order to support more environmentally conscious farming practices, to develop a relationship with the farmer who grew and/or processed their food, to develop a closer relationship to the food itself, to support local businesses, and to buy healthier food in an attempt to improve the relationship they have with their own bodies.  There are also other reasons, but these are probably the largest ones.  If you notice, each of them has to do with rekindling and strengthening relationships between people and other, non-monetary things.

Humans are social creatures.  We require other humans to survive.  We need people to talk to, to laugh with, to tease.  We need other people to be proud of us, to encourage us.  We need people to be proud of and to encourage.  And we need people to catch us when we fall.

Which is why humans as a species can never completely lose these relationships.  We require them.  If we lose our relationships, we lose ourselves.  There will always be people who have lost sight of these relationships, who are blinded in their quest for material wealth or monetary gain.  There will also always be people who retreat into the mountains of the world, isolating themselves so they may become one with nature.  They, too, are blinded in their quest for a strong relationship to the environment.

But many of us recognize that it is better, when considering these relationships, to act in the generalist way that our species always has.  To concentrate on equally strengthening all our relationships rather than focusing on one or two.  We may not have as strong a connection to the environment as those who put all their energies into that relationship, and we may not have as much material wealth as those who concentrate solely on that realm.  But we will have good relationships with all things, and be equally conscious of problems in all areas when they arise.  We will have a wide array of relationships to draw on when we ourselves are in trouble, and if one relationship fails, we will have the rest of the web to hold us up.  We will experience much and, in doing so, realize that we know very little.  We will laugh, cry, joke, muse, and stand in awe.  And at the end of it all, we will say we had a full life.

A life made full by our relationships.

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