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March 8, 2013

“We are bound up in a delicate network of interdependence because, as we say in our African idiom, a person is a person through other persons. To dehumanize another means that one is dehumanized as well.”[1]

Like it or not, we are interconnected. None of us walk alone in this world. Our words and actions resonate beyond ourselves. In an odd way, the flu demonstrates our interconnectedness by how it spreads so rapidly. Each person can spread it to the next without ever making contact or knowing the person. This interconnectedness has great implications, as Tutu stated. He finds it important to explain there are consequences to our actions and we will feel those consequences ourselves.

Looking at the world through the interdependence Tutu speaks of brings things into a whole new light. The bully dehumanize their self through their inappropriate dominant behavior. The wife batterer is dehumanizing himself through the very action he feels makes himself powerful. Perpetrators of violent crimes dehumanize themselves through their violence. In light of the Apartheid Tutu experienced, it is understandable for him to focus on the dehumanization of man and its consequences.

In addition, the reverse is true. When you act in an honorable way, you earn honor. A person who treats someone kindly will impress upon someone a kindness they may have never seen and find themselves treated to kindness. We can help change a person’s day or their outlook by treating them in a positive manner, building them up with encouragement, and not tearing them down.

How do we do this? First, we must realize we are in community. We are designed to be in community. In community you find support and accountability. You find people to walk with you through your trials and to celebrate with you when you have success. Second, you have a chance to lift people up or tear them down. Using Tutu’s logic, whatever you choose to do to others will have the reciprocal effect on you. Third, look around and find someone to bring kindness upon.

After digesting this interconnected idea, take 5 minutes to watch the video below with the thought of our interconnectedness in mind. Then share your suggestions to create a better interconnectedness with others here.

[1] Desmond Tutu. No Future Without Forgiveness. New York, NY: Image Doubleday, 1999. 35

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