What do the following have in common?

  • Climate Change
  • Intolerance (racism, nationalism, classism, etc.)
  • Widening Economic Disparity
  • Environmental Degradation
  • War
  • Gender Inequality
  • Consumerism
  • Misuse of Technology
  • Organized Crime

At first glance it doesn’t appear that things like climate change, racism, and war have much in common. Climate change is an environmental issue. Racism is a social issue and war is an international issue. In what way might they be related?

In order to see the commonality among such seemingly disparate phenomena it is necessary to understand them as symptoms of a common malady. It is the claim of this article that the common malady giving rise to all of the phenomena listed above is a virtually invisible assumption inherent in Western Civilization, an assumption that this Western Civilization is, itself, built upon. The assumption is separateness.

We, in the west and now almost everywhere around the world, take it for granted that we are living in a world of separate, independent things interacting in billiard ball like actions and reactions. Moreover, we rarely if ever see that our beliefs, motivations, interpersonal relationships, and even our institutions are all founded on this mistaken idea. We just take it for granted that the world and everything in it, including ourselves, are separate and independent things. But, what if this view of reality is wrong? What if there are no separate independently existing things?

According to recent scientific discoveries this is precisely the case. In fact, it is now widely held among scientist who examine the nature of reality that it is impossible for separate independently things to exist at all. The emerging view is that all apparently separate things arise through dynamic interdependent relationships among their components. For example water molecules arise through the interdependent interactions of hydrogen and oxygen atoms. And the hydrogen and oxygen atoms arise out of the interdependent interactions of electrons and protons. Nothing, repeat nothing, is or can be an independently existing entity separated from all else that exists.

So what’s this revelation got to do with widening economic disparity and gender inequality? It has everything to do with these and the other issues listed at the beginning of this article because the inaccurate assumption of separateness that underlies all of these issues can only exist when there is widespread ignorance or denial of the interdependent and indivisible nature of everything.

Examined under the lens of interdependence problems like climate change, forms of intolerance, and consumerism can all be seen to be failures to recognize the true nature of existence. When we fail to acknowledge the fundamental interdependence of all things we do things that go against the way things actually are and problems like the ones listed above inevitably arise.

The good news is that since there is only one problem the solution is simple. We need to make the interdependent nature of reality and the consequences of ignoring it known to as many people as soon as possible. The solution is simple in terms of what needs to be done but how to do it is much more difficult. Ecologist have been trying to get this message out for decades. Their work has not been in vain but we need to do everything we can to accelerate the process. Fortunately there are more and more individuals and organizations working separately and together to meet this challenge. We all need to do what we can with the hope that it will be enough and that it is in time.

For more on the interdependent mindset go to hopefulmindset.com