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Daily Om Thursday

 

We Are All Connected:
Intertwined Fates

There are times when we may feel disconnected from the world. Our actions can seem like they are of no major consequence, and we may feel like we exist in our own vacuum. Yet, the truth is that our simplest thought or action – the decisions we make each day, and how we see and relate to the world – can be incredibly significant and have a profound impact on the lives of those around us, as well as the world at large. The earth and everything on it is bound by an invisible connection between people, animals, plants, the air, the water, and the soil. Insignificant actions on your part, whether positive or negative, can have an impact on people and the environment that seem entirely separate from your personal realm of existence. Staying conscious of the interconnection between all things can help you think of your choices and your life in terms of the broader effect you may be creating.

Think of buying a wooden stool. The wood was once part of a tree which is part of a forest. A person was paid to fell the tree, another to cut the wood, and yet another to build the stool. Their income may have had a positive effect on their families, just as the loss of the tree may have had a negative impact on the forest or the animals that made that tree their home. An encouraging word to a young child about their special talent can influence this person to develop their gift so that one day their inventions can change the lives of millions. A poem written “merely” to express oneself can make a stranger reading it online from thousands of miles away feel less alone because there is someone else out there who feels exactly the way they do.

Staying conscious of your connection to all things can help you think of your choices in terms of their impact. We are powerful enough that what we do and say can reverberate through the lives of people we may never meet. Understanding that you are intimately connected with all things and understanding your power to affect our world can be the first step on the road to living more consciously. ~ Madyson Taylor, Daily Om

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This Daily Om article deals with our connection, or interconnectedness. It is something that we take for granted, and in many instances, we give little thought to as we go about our busy lives. Often, we are unaware of the impact of even a simple gesture. As an example, walking down the street, at a short distance, you see an average, harried-looking woman coming your way. She has a child on either side. It is obvious that she is in a hurry, and in an angry tone, snaps at the children to hurry along. As she passes you, you make eye contact with her, and say “hello” and wish her a good day. Without giving it a seconds thought, you go on about your way.

What you don’t realize is that this woman is in an abusive relationship and she is late for work because she forgot to iron her husband’s shirt last night. Just an hour ago, he slapped her and forced her to do it, or else. Your seemingly insignificant contact put a smile on the face of this woman, who endures a job that she hates, an abusive spouse and the rigors of caring for two small children. Just for a minute, your small gesture reminds her that kindness still exists in the world. She loosens the grip on her children’s arms, and stops to reach down to give each a quick hug. With that done, she gently grasps their hands and hurries to drop them at school, before she heads to work. You’ve unwittingly made a connection, that, if only for a little while, positively affected another’s life.

As humans, we thrive on connections; that is, healthy and positive connections. They are integral to our self-worth and feeling of “belonging.” Positive connections sustain us through good times and bad, and reminds us that we are not alone.

Modern culture applauds those people who seemingly “pulled themselves up by their bootstraps,” only to become a huge success. However laudable that may be, it is the rare case where these feats are accomplished without the help of others, without a connection to others. Although the saying originally referred to raising children, “it takes a village,” is a truism in that, in most instances, we do not and can not go through life without help from others. If truth be told, we are where we are because of the support or assistance, be it negative or positive, of one or more people.

Moreover, we must remember that we do not live or act in a vacuum and our actions may be far-reaching. It is rare that our actions do not affect someone, even, as the Daily Om article notes, in the purchase of a wooden stool. Such a mundane act, is emblematic of connection at work. Whereas positive connections have a positive effect, negative connections or the absence of connections have a detrimental impact on the psyche.

For instance, bullying is a big problem in our schools. Although some view it as “kids being kids,” that belittles the act. The problem is so endemic that the government has weighed in on the topic. Bullying is a form of physical, mental and emotional abuse that leaves the helpless victim ostracized and suffering from, as noted by the website “Stop Bullying,” lower grades in school, alienation, a host of health problems, including depression and in some cases, even resorting to violent measures. Bullying is a negative connection that yields negative results.

Then, we have loners who remain largely isolated from those around them. As referenced here, studies clearly show that such people experience more physical, emotional and mental health problems. Yet, the same article points to recent studies showing that social isolation can even lead to early death. In other instances, as stated by this Psychology Today article, “babies who are not held and nuzzled and hugged enough will literally stop growing and-if the situation lasts long enough, even if they are receiving proper nutrition-die.”  Such is the power of connection.

Connection is life-affirming, life-giving and life-enhancing. Each of us is, at our core, connected to others by invisible bonds that infuse our lives with love, empathy and compassion. They cause one to say, “But for the grace of God go I,” when confronted with the sorrow, pain and anguish of another, for we realize that we are no different, and that we could easily stand in their shoes. The word “connection” is defined as “a relationship in which a person, thing, or idea is linked or associated with something else,” in this case, with someone else.

As this Maya Angelou poem so eloquently expresses, we are not so different, you and I.

Human Family

I note the obvious differences
in the human family.
Some of us are serious,
some thrive on comedy.

Some declare their lives are lived
as true profundity,
and others claim they really live
the real reality.

The variety of our skin tones
can confuse, bemuse, delight,
brown and pink and beige and purple,
tan and blue and white.

I’ve sailed upon the seven seas
and stopped in every land,
I’ve seen the wonders of the world
not yet one common man.

I know ten thousand women
called Jane and Mary Jane,
but I’ve not seen any two
who really were the same.

Mirror twins are different
although their features jibe,
and lovers think quite different thoughts
while lying side by side.

We love and lose in China,
we weep on England’s moors,
and laugh and moan in Guinea,
and thrive on Spanish shores.

We seek success in Finland,
are born and die in Maine.
In minor ways we differ,
in major we’re the same.

I note the obvious differences
between each sort and type,
but we are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.

We are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.

We are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike. ~ Maya Angelou

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