We spend a lot of time in relative isolation in the course of navigating our modern lives. Oh sure, we have “friends” and “likes” and are perpetually tethered to myriads of others across time and space, but if you think about it, the portal to connect to this amazing world of interwebs is almost completely individualized. Somehow, this sense of greater interconnection (virtually speaking) comes at the expense of more direct forms of kindredness. The question how did we get here? is interesting to consider, but is perhaps less urgent than its unsung counterpart where are we going?
There are a lot of ways to tackle this. We can extrapolate ahead to some techno-topia in which consciousness and mechanics converge, making everything seamless and instantaneous in our social and materials arrangements alike. Or maybe it looks more like people growing tired of being wired and reclaiming the interpersonal dimensions of their lives and communities, including the lost arts of conversation and storytelling. Or even more promising: somehow combining all of this into new forms of collaboration and solidarity across whatever chasms might divide us. Indeed, this is more than wishful thinking — it’s an imperative of survival, per MLK:
Through our scientific and technological genius, we have made of this world a neighborhood and yet we have not had the ethical commitment to make of it a brotherhood. But somehow, and in some way, we have got to do this. We must all learn to live together as brothers or we will all perish together as fools. We are tied together in the single garment of destiny, caught in an inescapable network of mutuality. And whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. For some strange reason I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. And you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be.
At this level, it’s about recognizing the self in the other, and the other in the self. Every grand spiritual tradition includes some notion of this, as does every great mobilization of people power to effect change through nonviolent means. From workers’ and women’s rights to decolonization and environmental movements, this basic concept of deepening our connections to one another, and all of us to the habitat, is palpable. Mutual recognition and deep solidarity aren’t optional; they are the binding forces in everything. As the great Leonard Cohen intones, reverberating throughout the decades:
So here we are. Again. There’s still time to get it right — not an eternity, but a window of opportunity. We don’t have to dismantle our current configurations to get there, even if such was possible. It’s more about remembering the core baseline operations in our personal and social coding. You are, therefore I am. WE ARE. It’s the only way it can be, if we are to wear that garment of destiny…