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Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s quote from his Letter from a Birmingham Jail speaks to an essential truth: everything, all life, is interconnected. Everything affects everything else.

The examples are everywhere.
We know this in the body: when I have pain in my knee, it impacts my whole body.
We know this in our relationships: one angry member of the family impacts everybody.
We know this in on the Earth: the extinction of a species sends a ripple of change through an entire eco-system.
We know this in our society. As Dr. King said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

To honor the work and life of Martin Luther King, expand your perspective. Notice with deep awareness how everything affects everything else.

And if you could use a little additional inspiration in these days of darkness and tumult, I recommend either reading or better yet, listening, to Dr. King’s Love Your Enemies sermon from November 17, 1957. This is a reminder I need every day.

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connection confection ubuntu africaIt’s easy to pretend it doesn’t matter.

Ever say, Ah, it doesn’t matter
that my ankle hurts or
where I shop or
what I do with the piles of wrapping paper or
what was wrapped in it.

The sweet truth is that it does matter.
Everything is connected.
Everything.
Everyone.
Suffering anywhere affects the whole. Joy, too.

Every choice ripples out, reverberates further out than you might expect.
Six degrees of separation? Maybe fewer degrees than that.

You make a difference whether you realize it or not.
That is the sweet truth.

So, what difference do you want to make?

connection confection body sculptureIn nature we never see anything isolated, but everything in connection with something else which is before it, beside it, under it and over it. ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

What is it about Western culture that we see things in isolation? Somehow we think that everything is separate from everything else, or at the very least, that if it works one place, that it will work everywhere.

Hawaiian sugar plantation owners imported the mongoose to the island to kill the rat population. Turns out that mongoose are diurnal and rats are nocturnal, so the two never actually met. But the mongoose did a number on the native bird population in a hurry.

Examples of “separatist thinking” are everywhere:

Importing European rabbits to Australia,
Transplanting Asian kudzu in the southern U.S.
 Attempting to do Trikonasana/Triangle pose with just my legs and not my arms and core
 Imposing the religion of one culture onto another

All these actions demonstrate a fundamental misunderstanding about the way things work: healthy systems are balanced. And the balance of every complex system — be it an eco-system, a society, or a human being — is, by its very nature, dependent on interconnectedness and integration. Ignoring interconnection eventually ends in crying and chaos.

Separation is the story we tell ourselves. The truth is that everything – and I mean everything — is connected to everything and everyone else. Indigenous people seem to have a core understanding that we simply cannot separate body from spirit, human beings from nature, or the individual from the society. We could sooner separate the waves from the ocean or the blue from the sky.

Mindful movement works with the interconnection of the body. If you have an injury, say, in your left shoulder, practice moving both sides of your body equally. Even if you have greater range of motion in your right shoulder, practice keeping both sides balanced. Otherwise, some parts get stronger, some get weaker, some get overused, and some get underused. The whole muscular skeletal system can get all kitty-whompus. More than that, though, your mind and emotions receive the message from the body that they are out of whack, not well, injured. And that has an effect not just on the body but the whole person. Moving with balance sends a message of healing.

We can extrapolate this understanding of interconnection to families, organizations, and cultures: even if we ignore the suffering in one part, the rest is negatively affected. The health or illness of any part affects the whole.  It’s time to stop pulling things apart and instead, start drawing them together.

Celebrate connection as the sweet system in which this world exists. Jane Goodall wisely says that “you cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” The choices I make in all areas of my life ripple out all around me.

You are not inconsequential. As you make choices today — about everything from how you move, to what you eat, from how you spend your time, to what you do with your waste, from how you treat your Starbucks barista, to the holiday gifts you purchase — remember that each choice reverberates out. What kind of difference do you want to make?

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