Published on July 28, Ms. Lotter's unsentimental yet touching death notice soon went viral. She expressed belief in a cosmic interdependency, which may be considered esoteric philosophy. But truly, it is irrevocable fact.
Her words, along with something I heard recently at a yoga festival, has me pondering why we cling to the mechanistic view when acknowledging and honoring the holistic would serve us far better.
We isolate, label, and categorize parts and pieces of parts. We use our labels to focus on fragments rather than striving to comprehend context. Too often, we raise the flag of individualism without taking into account that, as Ms. Lotter wrote, we are in this together. It’s not just feel good kumbaya. It’s fundamental fact.
During a yoga class taught by Jules Mitchell at the Flagstaff Yoga Festival, she talked about the drawbacks of thinking about the body in parts. Without a doubt, labeling body parts is useful for understanding physiology. It also can lead to simplistic, counterproductive, or foolish thinking. “If a teacher instructs you to fire up your quad muscles, you probably focus on doing that,” she said. “But really, you need to be aware that action is going to affect your entire body.”
We fall into that thinking around food as well. Researchers are beginning to develop an understanding of the complex interplay of hundreds of nutrients found in whole foods. Scientific studies confirm that natural, whole foods deliver a nutritional wallop that can’t be replicated by consuming isolated nutrients – even in concentrated doses. Taking the carotene out of the carrot and consuming it as a supplement, for example, has the potential to do damage. The magic happens by ingesting the whole carrot.
Work highlights our mechanistic tendencies as well. For more than a century, work has been organized in ways that discount the whole and make crucial interdependencies almost invisible. People are assigned roles and responsibilities. They answer to a supervisor, who answers to a manager, who answers to a VP, who answers to a CEO. People define work as completing tasks in a way that pleases the boss rather than understanding how their contributions are essential to the success of whole undertaking. And the undertaking exists in a marketplace that has its own interdependencies.
A muscle requires the brain, lungs, ligaments, tendons, bones and more to function.
The carrot seed needs soil, water, and sunshine to become a vegetable rich in healthy nutrients.
If workers, teams and departments base decisions only on what is best for them without honoring interdependencies, the enterprise will fail to thrive.
We are, each of us, connected to every person and everything on this earth.