Sometimes, when we talk about our inter-connectedness, or our interdependence, it can sound very abstract and metaphysical. But it’s actually very practical and observable, and it is a profound insight when we begin to pay attention to it. We can see it everywhere, all the time. Since I’m having my morning coffee (2nd actually), at this moment, let’s use that as an example.
We normally think of a cup of coffee as a dispensable resource, a consumable commodity. It’s not personal. But in reality, that cup of coffee is completely dependent on the entire system of which we are a part. The cup of coffee is dependent on the farmers that grew it, each with their own stories, experiences of suffering, hopes, and dreams. Likewise the buyers and sellers, the truck drivers, the grocery store clerks and baristas. We are all interconnected and interdependent. And it’s not just people today. It’s the whole history of people who first cultivated the coffee bean, who invented the drink we call coffee. It’s wars, colonization, and culture, all in your cup of coffee. And it’s not just people. The coffee is also dependent on weather systems, on climate, on animals, on the sun. Literally the whole creation is contained in your cup of coffee.
When we begin to pay attention to this, we see that we are intimately connected with each other, and with the planet. We too often view other people as dispensable as well: a cashier, an uber driver, a boss or coworker, all there to somehow meet our needs, or the billions of insignificant and irrelevant strangers on the street. But the truth is we depend on each other, are intimately bound to one another, and are in fact all one together as parts of this wonderful creation.
It brings new meaning to how we view and treat other people, other beings, plants, animals, and even ourselves. We can look in the eyes of a stranger, (or in our cup of coffee), and see the whole universe smiling back at us.