We are not skilled at interdependence.
We seem to be comfortable with both independence (‘I can do what I like’) contrasted with dependence (‘I have to do what I am told’) but uncomfortable finding a way in between (‘we do this because it works best for all of us’).
Because some people seem willing to park wherever they want however much inconvenience or danger this might cause others (a form of total independence), we find other people have developed rules for everything from disabled parking spaces to double yellow lines to keep them in line (a form of total dependence) knowing we cannot rely on individuals making a balanced judgement for the well being of all (a form of interdependence).
I thought of all this in part when reading about the damage done in Joshua Tree National Park in Californian which was left open but unsupervised during the recent American Government shutdown. Human beings given total freedom destroyed and polluted, ignored the regulations which would have kept them in check, and simply failed to be adept at balancing their own will with wider good.
We seem to see the attractions of degrees of political independence (reclaiming our sovereignty, making our particular nation great). We might see the attractions of degrees of political dependence (an external jurisdiction on matters of dispute, operation within established agreements). But we are discouraged from even contemplating what political interdependent would look like (despite people crying out for this perspective all the time in everything from fair trade to climate justice).
There is a poetic sense (rather than a literal translation) in which the New Testament Greek word sometimes rendered ‘better’ and sometimes ‘more profitable’ is sum-phero which is almost with-carry or together-burdened. It was 1 Corinthians 6.12 as much as the Joshua Tree National Park which prompted my thinking. We know Paul wrestles with the contrast between freedom from law subjection to the law. Here he says that we are free - but not all freedom is ‘helpful’ (sum-phero).
We need a critical mass, sufficient shared-fetching, an instinct for inter-dependence. We seem programmed as human beings to settle instead for a stale opposition between whether I get my way or get told what to do instead.
Meanwhile, I’ve only just noticed the little hands holding the bottoms of every scroll of foliage around the sanctuary in St Michael’s, Haworth.