December 15


Today's quotation:

We will recognize that each person needs to nourish and be nourished by many persons. . . . It is right, even necessary, to make yourselves available to one another in new loving, caring, and fulfilling ways-- without the spectres of old guilts.

Quaker newsletter

Today's Meditation:

The myth of independence is one of the elements of our lives that keep us from getting the most out of the lives we live.  Most of the authentic gratification that's available to us as human beings comes from our connections to other human beings-- the helping and receiving that we do for and get from them.  In fact, many educators are making a conscious effort to shift from teaching the concept of "independence" to teaching the concept of "interdependence," which seems to be a much more realistic way of looking at our world and our places in it.

Somehow we've come to romanticize and glorify those people who have nothing to do with society and other people, the rebels and lone wolves who insist on doing everything their way, come hell or high water.  Many kids grow up thinking that asking for help is a sign of weakness, and in my experience those are the students I see failing because they reach a certain point at which their self-sufficiency is no longer enough.  If they would just allow themselves to ask someone else to help them, they might find that there are many important lessons out there that can be learned only from someone who has been there already.

"Each person needs to nourish and be nourished by many persons."  These are incredibly powerful words, and very difficult ones for us to accept if we have any sort of fear of people and social situations (as I do).  But this is a fight that's worth the effort, and that's why I continue to battle:  I know that the best thing I can do for myself is to make myself an active, contributing part of society, for that's the only way that I'll learn many of the lessons that I need to learn-- from the teachers who are all about me in my world.  And when I give back to them, I can be a teacher, too.

Questions to consider:

What are some of the benefits of a strong sense of independence?  And drawbacks?

Why do so many people feel that independence is so important?

How can we go about learning to deepen our community ties?

For further thought:

Many people do not know that they can strengthen or diminish the life around them.  The way we live day to day simply may not reflect back to us our power to influence life or the web of relationships that connects us.  Life responds to us anyway.  We all have the power to affect others.  We may affect those we know and those we do not even know at all. . . . Without our knowing, we may influence the lives of others in very simple ways.

Rachel Naomi Remen

more thoughts and ideas on community



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