I remember the day this happened. I was on my way home and found myself in the most baffling traffic jam that I’ve ever experienced. At every turn there was no way out. I took the slow moving surface streets and eventually made my way to my destination. I was lucky, others were stranded, completely immobilized, for hours and hours.
What I found most fascinating about this was how so many people were affected by one person’s actions. It seemed to me such a poignant lesson that was largely ignored. Sure, the guy who did this was in the midst of a significant personal crisis. Sure, had I been one of the people sitting on the bridge for hours on end while he sat at the edge, my interpretation of his actions may have been a little different. And yet I could not help but think, what better way to realize your place in the world than to bring all traffic in a major metropolitan area to a complete standstill? It brings to mind the big lesson of this classic, put in real life terms of course.
I realize that my interpretation of these events is only possible based on my distal vantage point. That up close and personal, lessons are not nearly as simple to divine. But that one of the many benefits of living in community with others, isn’t it? We get to learn from each other. We get to take events and create stories around them. And the story itself can have a positive influence on our future choices and how we see the world.
Here’s my main takeaway: We are interconnected. One person’s crisis is every person’s crisis. With our interdependence as a base for understanding it follows that just as we can help each other, so can we cause each other major distress. It seems to be that our best hope lies in listening to each other in ways that facilitate collaboration. Together we can make progress much faster than apart. Indeed, together we make progress in spite of our invented sense of independence. So why not just stop pretending that we are in this alone?