“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.” –John Muir
Muir, a 20th century naturalist, was certainly ahead of his time; before viruses were known, phones or radios used, even before U.S. National Parks – until he created the first one at Yosemite in 1899. Muir knew “hitched-to-the-universe” experiences could come from sharing of nature.
It was a simpler time then; land was plenty, people few, and we didn’t really know as much about each other; we were still in discovery mode. We could also claim ignorance to rape, famine, slavery, genocide, and even get away with it.
“We,” you say? “’We’ could get away with it?” “Not my problem, not my watch, nor my people,” most will exclaim, distancing ourselves from those “others.”
Yet now we can all see the earthquakes and hurricanes, feel the poverty and hunger, cringe at the Holocaust and Darfur, and who will forget 9/11?
By the same measure, we can celebrate Apartheid’s end and HIV’s decline, share the liberation of ‘Arab Spring” and the pride of a man on the moon. We now know that human DNA is 99.9% the same. And a new feature documentary film, Connected, by Tiffany Shlain explores this all brilliantly too. So we get it; we’re related, connected, sometimes even reliant.
But could we go further? Could humans connect more with each other? Could we agree to truly universal basic human rights for all? Could we actually become inter-dependent?
“In an interdependent relationship,” Wikipedia defines, “all participants are emotionally, economically, ecologically and/or morally self-reliant while at the same time responsible to each other.”
“Responsible to each other;” I like that; Response – able. We sure respond to natural disasters around the globe well enough.
Except ongoing requests for food, water, medicine and equality require more listening, forethought and commitment. “Proactive for each other” might be a bigger step in the right direction; Pro-Active interdependence. Sounds nice, and how might we practice such interdependence – proactively?
Examples could be: car pooling, food coops, pot luck dinners, Wikipedia, Google Maps’ traffic updates using shared GPS signals, Ushahidi in Kenya maps civil unrest by SMS messages, Witness.org does it via user videos, and social media is rife with samples like Facebook, Twitter and Quora.
My favorite case in point, of course, is crowd-sourced video translation initiatives such as TED’s Open Translation Project, Adobe TV, Global Oneness. Now dotSUB’s bold new “100 Translations Interdependence Challenge” will translate the inspiring short film A Declaration of Interdependence into a multi-cultural celebration of interdependence in action as volunteers from around the world translate the 4-minute film into as many different languages as possible.
“I have inside me the winds, the deserts, the oceans, the stars, and everything created in the universe,” writes Paul Coelho.
And now the 100 Translations Challenge is inside us too!