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We Are Connected

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

b2ap3_thumbnail_web3_sm.jpgBeing an introvert, interacting with other humans is tiring. And yet I must, not only because the world is full of us, and I will be more healthy and live longer if I do, but because we all need each other in order to make our lives better. Every day we get help from others even if we never step outside our home or answer the phone. Short of moving out to the woods, building a shelter and finding all our food – an activity statistically likely to result in death – we are enmeshed in a web of human assistance.

This spring, my husband and I bought a house we are fixing up. We aren’t doing it alone thank the gods. We don’t have the time or skills to do everything that needs doing. We have a plumber, Kenny, and Steve, the fellow who did the gutters, but the fellow who has done a great deal of our work is Rey. Rey and his various helpers have re-roofed the shed in the back of the house, replaced the boards on the deck, cut doors in concrete and brick walls, and installed doors and windows. I too am a maker. I can do construction, sew things, and create art. But I physically cannot do everything. My body is not strong enough to do what Rey and his crew achieve in the space of a few weeks. If I did not have their help, it would take months, if it got done at all. I like very much that my energy is in this house. It is an act of magical creation to transform an space that has been empty and lonely for two years into warm and inviting nest. But it is not my energy alone. Rey enjoys his job. He takes pictures of everything he does. He teaches his helpers how to do things, and he keeps doing it, even when they abandon him to make more money working on their own. He helps me, he helps them. Yes, we pay him, and he pays them. But that doesn’t change the good feelings I have about a man who has made my life better. And he feels good about us too. He’s so happy with the amount of money that we have given him over the summer, that he offered us a half day of work for free. (And for the cynical, no, he doesn’t over-charge for his work.)

But even a house that is in livable condition has already had the hands of myriad makers upon it, as have the phones and computers that we use daily. My phone has been touched, added to, adjusted, programmed by hundreds of people. Each person has given a little bit of energy to make my life better. And I have given a bit of mine in return in the form of mutually-agreed-upon-medium-of-exchange (ie, money.) The coffee that you (I don’t drink coffee) drink is grown by a farmer, transported by laborers ships, and sold by grocery stores and barristas. All these people make our lives better.

This web of connection and mutual service is fluid and organic. Like any ecosystem, when something changes, the web flexes and adjusts to the new conditions. No amount of planning could create something so complex. We are linked together willy nilly, even with humans that we might not otherwise like at all.

The laborers that bring our coffee might be sexist, the Chinese workers who make parts for our phone may hate the Koreans who assemble it. The person who works in the oil field in the middle east may believe in his heart that homosexuals are not worthy of life, but the oil he pumps will still go in the car of someone who believes the opposite. It is easy to feel tainted when I consider this, but I must consider that the link goes both ways. I too affect these people. If they pull on the strands, I can pull back. My will is as strong as theirs. The web sends signals in both directions.

And things are getting better. Despite what we hear on the news, people are less likely to die of violence now than at any other time in human history. More people live longer, and the longer people live, the fewer children they have. Fewer children means more time to think, and create, and choose how we want to live. Information about how different people live is more available than ever. Humans in remote places can learn different ideas about how to be and choose the best ones. Last year, Nigeria enacted a ban on female genital mutilation. Women in India talk with other women about birth control, and why they don’t have to give in to their husband’s desire to have a boy child.

We are connected. In a good way.

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Selina Rifkin, L.M.T., M.S. is a graduate of Temple University and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. In 1998 she graduated from the Downeast School of Massage in Maine. She has published articles in Massage Therapy Journal, been a health columnist, and published The Referral Guide for Complementary Care, a book that describes 25 different healing modalities. In 2006 she completed her Masters program in Nutrition with a focus on traditional foods, and the work of Weston A. Price.
Currently she is the Executive Assistant to the Director of Cherry Hill Seminary, the first Pagan seminary to offer Master’s degrees.


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