we suck at interdependence.

I have been thinking a lot about the state of the United States of America right now. Of the reality of Delta variant raging through our country, with 1,000+ deaths a day this past week—even when a solution is available. Of news of the horrible events unfolding in Afghanistan and the incredible collateral damage to the most vulnerable. Of fires and floods and tornadoes and our earth crying out to us that the way we’ve ravaged it has consequences. 

I’ve been thinking a lot about how exhausting it feels to work so hard on COVID safety for so long for The Refuge, how we’ve played our part, how we’ve done all we could do to ensure that we didn’t just focus on ourselves but on the wider community as well. How we made sacrifices on behalf of each other and our neighbors and worked our tails off to find creative solutions for people to get vaccinated. 

And yet, here we are—fully masked again, rolling backwards, faced with a fall that requires the next level of creativity and commitment that is, frankly, more than just tiring.

It feels sad.

Sad that we just suck at interdependence

Independence, personal freedoms, Not In My Backyard NIMBY-ism, we know better than all the people who have dedicated their lives and their educations to certain subjects, trite God’s-got-me’isms, science isn’t real until I need some medical care, and “those people” around the world have always had problems and there’s nothing we can do to fix it. 

It’s always been present in our culture, in our churches, in our society. 

But now, faced with the biggest global health crisis in over 100 years, it’s revealed more than ever. 

I know I can’t change certain minds.

I know no matter how many things I posted or said or tried to put out into the world, it wouldn’t shift things much.

I know it sometimes feels futile.

Yet, still, I believe in every part of my soul that it’s worth the work to work on cultivating, creating, practicing, doing everything possible to nurture interdependence in the places we can.

Our freedom is all tied up together.

What happens across the world to women and children is happening to us.

Our inability to battle COVID is reliant on all of us, or at least more of us, truly making sacrifices for each other—especially the most vulnerable—our children, our friends and family fighting serious diseases that keep them frightfully at risk. 

Our faith isn’t just personal. It is supposed to have legs that walk toward the most vulnerable and offer support, care, and compassion. 

The early Christian church, before it got religi-fied in the same way that Jesus was railing against, was and is one of my favorite examples of what true interdependence could look like, feel like, be. 

Indigeneous cultures have a one-ness, an interconnectedness, a relationship with the earth and each other embedded in their practices and beliefs, that we could learn so much from 

But interdependence requires something that we’re not the best at—humility. 

Needing each other. Bending our knee for each other. Making sacrifices for each other. Respecting our shared humanity. Shifting our in-grown eyeballs to a world crying out for hope, support, care. 

Recognizing the small part we play in a bigger story.

I can’t make people do things I want them to do.

I can’t yell loud enough, cry hard enough, do most anything to convince people of something that they just can’t be convinced about.

But here’s what I can do, we can do, if we are stirred to do it–

Practice interdependence.

Play our part in caring for the most vulnerable.

Keep doing what’s right for our planet even when we wonder if it makes a dent.

Keep sharing stories about real humans in need and do what we can to support them.

Keep holding our umbrellas up in the middle of the storm because even if only a few people are protected, it’s better than being left in the rain.

Keep borrowing hope from each other because we’re going to need some to last. 

Thank the earth for holding us.

Thank the people in our lives who are working hard to help us last.

Cultivate collaborations even when it takes a little more energy.

Notice God in strange places that help us not lose faith in humanity. 

Keep doing the next right thing no matter if it feels like it matters because it does. 

What we do matters for each other.

Oh, humans and interdependence.

We can do so much better.

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Kathy Escobar

Kathy Escobar is dedicated to creating safe and brave spaces for transformation and healing in real life, online, and outside. She co-pastors at The Refuge, a hub for healing community, social action, and creative collaboration in North Denver, co-directs #communityheals, a non-profit organization dedicated to making spaces for transformation accessible for all, and is the author of Practicing: Changing Yourself to Change the World, Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart and several other books.

One Comment

  • We suck at interdependence when we have to know and respect the other.

    We are better at it when we don’t know the other. The orange in my fruit salad today came from another community in another country from the labor that I don’t know. I just bought it. I did meet the guy who sold it to me.

    But the labor who tended it, harvested it, shipped it, etc. I don’t know them- and I am happy they did the work so I could have that orange.


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