Without the love of our parents at the dawn of life, what would have become of us? And when we grow old, we will again depend on the kindness of others. But between childhood and old age we live a period of relative independence, and since that time we are able to do without others, we think it unnecessary to be kind towards them. -Dalai Lama from The Essential Life and Teachings.
I often say to people that right from birth, we learn to appreciate the affection of our mother. And our mother freely and naturally gives her affection to us. There is a reason for this: that affection is crucial for the survival of the child. And many other animals have a similar sort of experience—the children are also entirely dependent on the mother fotr survival. But in some species, such as turtles, the children are not dependent on the mother, once the eggs are laid. So if someone tried to bring a mother turtle and her offspring together, would they feel affection? Would there be a bond? Probably not. Her children are independent from birth, so they would never develop that kind of feeling of closeness.
Now, if we extend this logic of dependence further—from the family out to the community and society, to the national and international levels, and even to the economy and environment—then we can see how interconnected we are, how interdependent the world is. Given this reality, we cannot escape the necessity for care toward each other. This has nothing to do with religion. I’m not talking about God or Buddha. I’m talking about understanding and appreciating this highly complex and interdependent world. Then, even from the point of view of one’s own personal survival and well-being, one can argue for an ethical system based on affection.
A young child’s affection does not come through faith; it is naturally very strong. I think the mistake we make is that when we’re grown up, we start to think we’re independent. We think that in order to be successful we don’t need others—except maybe to exploit them! This is the source of all sorts of problems, scandals, and corruption. But if we had more respect for other people’s lives—a greater sense of concern and awareness—it would be a very different world. We have to introduce the reality of interdependence. Then people would discover that, according to that reality, affection and compassion are essential if anything is ever going to change. -from the Ethics of Interdependence an Interview with the Dalai Lama.
Interdependence is and ought to be as much the ideal of man as self-sufficiency. Man is a social being. Without interrelation with society he cannot realize his oneness with the universe or suppress his egotism. His social interdependence enables him to test his faith and to prove himself on the touchstone of reality. Mahatma Gandhi, Young India, March 21, 1929
When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe. John Muir, My First Summer in the Sierra.
- …for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. Martin Luther King Jr., I have a dream, 1963
- Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial “outside agitator” idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963
- Independent thinking alone is not suited to interdependent reality. Independent people who do not have the maturity to think and act interdependently may be good individual producers, but they won’t be good leaders or team players. They’re not coming from the paradigm of interdependence necessary to succeed in marriage, family, or organizational reality. Stephen Covey, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, 1989
Federico Mayor, Address to the “Symposium 80″ on International Cultural Relations: Bridges Across Frontiers, Bonn, 27 May 1980
- Hence, international co-operation and solidarity and the relentless search for consensus become an absolute imperative. They are the only possible alternative for all nations, whose interdependence is being made increasingly manifest by the rapid development of production technology, of transport and communications, as well as by the overhanging threat of deterioration of the environment and exhaustion of natural resources. And what is one to say of the frightful accumulation of means of destruction in a world facing the no less frightful problems of hunger, disease and ignorance?