Interdependence is a word that has been tossed around so much that it can lose its meaning. That happens. Just the same I started thinking about interdependence from three different perspectives emanating from three different events. One has been the incarcation of a young friend who has got mixed up in drugs and the crimes that go along with that. Another was a talk I heard yesterday on economic conditions. The third was memory flashes of an old BBC show narrated by James Burke called “Connections.”
My young friend’s drug use has tagged him with a well earned criminal record and engaged him with destructive forces of society that are rampant in places such as Mexico, Columbia and Afghanistan, as well as Portland, Seattle and Walla Walla. Distant murderous crime syndicates, corrupt governments, and local warlords are financed by mostly impoverished drug users all over the world. He is my friend and I care very much about him, so I also am engaged. It’s an insideous web of connections with no obvious place for intervention.
The speaker on economic conditions observed that Europe was financing its social welfare system on the American market place, and when we stopped buying their products it put their economies in jeopardy. The implication was that they were dependent on us, in a profligate way, because we are the very center of the world economy in such a way that everyone else depends on us. I don’t think that’s what he really meant, it’s just the way it came out. And coming out that way, it ignored our dependence on oil from other parts of the world, on China to supply both manufactured products and cash to finance our borrowing, on Europe as both a market and supplier, and on the cheap labor of lesser developed countries to grow our winter fruits and veggies. Voices calling for a renewed self dependence in all areas simply fail to understand the complexity of these relationships that lead to the mutual well being or destruction of all. That goes for those who want to secure our borders with walls and gun towers, satiate our lust for oil by sucking it out at any environmental cost, and limit our food intake to locally grown produce.
That’s what James Burke tried to describe back in the late 1970s with his ten part series “Connections.” The interconnectedness of all lives and things in every place is enormously complex, and following even the simplest strand becomes hopelessly confusing. How are we to keep our focus under these condtions? The psalmist, writing as the voice of God, had something to say to those of us who perceive ourselves to be the gods of our day:
1 God has taken his place in the divine council;
in the midst of the gods he holds judgment:
2 “How long will you judge unjustly
and show partiality to the wicked?
3 Give justice to the weak and the orphan;
maintain the right of the lowly and the destitute.
4 Rescue the weak and the needy;
deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”
That doesn’t answer every question, but it does point us in the right direction – God’s direction.