This post was first published on January 30, 2013. I’ve had occasion to think a lot about these ideas in recent weeks, which prompted me to share this one again.
We are at an interesting crossroads, having made the long march up from the scarcity of our hunter-gatherer days, up through the genius of agriculture and animal husbandry (and the miracle of settled human society they made possible; up through the game-changing Industrial Revolution which birthed to the middle class and brought a tenfold increase in wealth to the capitalist countries — though often at the expense of people and the planet. Now we’re in the grips of another great transformative moment in human history, which I call The Interconnectedness Revolution. It’s marked by our growing awareness of the interconnectedness of all life, and our growing recognition that every man is our brother and this planet is our home. It’s the culmination of man’s 11,000 year journey from scarcity to abundance, and a high-water mark in the evolution of the human race.
The Zen Master Bernie Glassman spoke poignantly about this idea of interconnectedness in a recent interview on Charlie Rose, where he appeared with the actor Jeff Bridges to promote their new book, The Dude and The Zen Master. There, he asked that we imagine that our left hand, right hand and right leg are part of the same body but do not know it. He then asks us to imagine that this right leg is injured and that, instead of helping, the left hand and right hand say, “I’m not gonna help, it’s not my problem,” and, in the end, no one helps, and finally the body dies. For most of human history, we have been like the left hand and right hand that don’t know they belong to the same body as the leg. Now, we are waking up to the idea that everyone, and everything, on this planet is part of the same body, and that we’ll perish or continue as one.