What If We Really Cared?
by: Bob Dare
Humankind has not woven the web of life.
We are but one thread within it.
Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.
All things are bound together. All things connect.
I have the quote above in a small picture frame positioned on my desk where I cannot avoid reading it each day. Chief Seattle of the Suquamish Tribe, spoke those words over 150 years ago. His words addressed the rapidity in which the Nation was expanding without regard to the impact the expansion was having on peoples and the environment. I do not think that his concerns, expressed so profoundly above, have lost relevancy.
The negative effects of not realizing that we are all part of "the web" often results in actions predicated on "what's best for me". How will this affect me? What does this do for me? Will this work to my benefit? We don't always take the time to consider that our behaviors are not always restricted in scope and impact. We want that tree limb resting on our lawn to be gone so we relocate to the neighbor's property. We are unhappy with the latest policy that management has issued so we engage in water cooler gossip in an attempt to build dissent, rather than approaching the source and addressing our dissatisfaction professionally. We hear a tasteless joke and think it is funny so we tweet it out to a larger audience without regard to the potential hurt it may cause. We walk or drive by someone in need because we are in a hurry to take care of our own business, and besides, "someone else will help."
There are countless examples I could provide but the point is clear, "All things connect". What we do or not do does impact others. Without thinking critically, responsibly and with empathy before we act we can very well create an unintended consequence that causes hurt or suffering. When we allow our emotions to be unchecked we can often do or say something that, although regrettable, it nevertheless is done, and the damage cannot be repaired. Too often we use freedom and privacy as "licensing" to serve a selfish cause.
Perhaps it is time for a little comity to enter our lives. Comity can be found in the Golden Rule, or in Rousseau's "social contract", or, as the ancient Romans called it, civitatis filia, civic friendship. How much improved might the challenges of today be if we were to truly consider the total reach and effect of our behavior? What if we agreed with Chief Seattle, "whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves", and realized that each one of us, in our actions and words, directly or indirectly, impacts this planet and those around us? What if we really cared?
We cannot deny the fact that humans are social animals and are not supposed to be alone. We need one and another. We are all connected. What we do to "the web" we do to each other. If each of us were to genuinely care, practice empathy when making decisions, if we remain cognizant that we are "but one thread" within the "web of life", then it seems to me that we would enjoy a robust and meaningful life. We will never eliminate all evil and disappointment, but, we can make our space in this world a better place.
True Growth Takeaway:
We need each other.
True Growth Journal Question:
What small thing of kindness can I do today?
About the author: Bob Dare served 28 years in the United States Army. He held every noncommissioned officer leadership position culminating with his last three assignments as Command Sergeant Major for the 25th Infantry Division, United States Army Pacific Command and United States Army Forces Command. Bob is also an executive coach and facilitator for LWM III Consulting.