Interdependence and Curiosity in a Chaotic World

May 07, 2024

As the Nobel Prize winning economist Milton Friedman said in 1980:

Look at this lead pencil.  There is not a single person in the world who can make this pencil.

The rubber, aluminum, lead, wood, and paint are all sourced through different countries, and require shipping, manufacturing, and marketing before you purchase the pencil at a store also kept running by a number of individuals.  We need each other to keep the world moving, and everyone’s participation matters.

So, how does it help to remember that we are interdependent as we struggle to agree on key sociopolitical issues?  First, when we remember our interdependence, we can remember that others, even those we disagree with, are still making valuable contributions to the world we live in, perhaps through their work, their volunteering, or through raising another generation.  Everyone is worthy of respect.

Living life with curiosity is also key. We all have opinions and it’s important for us to speak up and do our part to bring change and make the world a better place. It’s also important to maintain a level of curiosity and an open mind. Mindfulness teaches us to be humble with our opinions, to let go of our self-righteousness.

Allow yourself to entertain the possibility that you could be wrong about something, or that you may not have all the facts. Examine different sources, listen to what others have to say about certain matters. You may come out the other side with an even firmer conviction, or you may be surprised to learn that your original beliefs have shifted. It can be helpful to start sentences with, “In my opinion” or, “From what I have read, it appears…”, and accept the possibility that there may be more information out there than what you have, and remain open to learning more.

This summer, I will be teaching a class on The Five Chairs (stay tuned for more event details!), which helps us learn non-violent communication, a way to speak to each other with civility and care.  It can be a game changer for us in our everyday lives.  As one of my heroes, Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. emphasized:

This is the way our universe is structured. This is its interrelated quality. We aren’t going to have peace on earth until we recognize the basic fact of the interrelated structure of all reality.

Perhaps we can’t bring peace everywhere, but we can learn to bring it to our families, our friendships, our associates at work, and others in our spheres.  There’s never been a more important time.

by Ann Friedman, Director of Curriculum for the Mind Body Spirit Institute of The Jung Center, Psychologist and Mindfulness Facilitator

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