The moment we wake up, we begin to relate to people to whom we are intimately connected though we’ve never met them. Their contributions keep us alive and we harm them without intending to. They make our shirts, grow our food, mine the coal many of us burn to turn on the lights.
Every action we take, day or night, depends on and affects the Earth and our fellow inhabitants here. Our bodies are quite literally composed of the plants and animals we eat as our cells reproduce themselves thanks to the transformation of the atoms we ingest into energy, skin, muscle, blood. Millions of years ago plants and animals became the natural gas that powers the computer I’m writing on and continues to warm the planet when it’s burned, destroying many species, perhaps our own.
There is a Jewish saying that if you save one person, you save the entire world. I was recently talking with a young man whose life went in a very different direction than it might have thanks to a couple of caring professors. He has returned to the neighborhood where he grew up and is speaking to the children there, showing up as living proof that the world holds more possibility than they are told and shown.
The interconnections in our world are startlingly beautiful and impossibly complex. Tracing them can be useful, but more importantly holding a deep awareness of them brings us alive. We must honor and respect our absolute reliance on our fellow human beings and the entirety of creation, not as a form of obligation but as a song of praise.
The professors didn’t ask anything in return from the young man, but in his recognition of and gratitude for their gift, he shared it with countless others. There is no better way to honor a gift and thank the giver than by sharing what we have received.
When we entered this world, we received profound relationship to all of existence. May our lives be an expression of praise and gratitude befitting the gift and honoring the Giver.