09 Apr 2015

“Interdependence is the relationship between two or more living things where each one benefits from the other.”

I love that definition.*

Introduction by Dr. Deb:

In my interpersonal communication class this week, students and I discussed marriage and family relationships. As in all healthy relationships, interdependence should be present.

In relationships, we are connected at many levels, some of which science and psychology are just beginning to understand. We mirror each other, synchronize our movements, and communicate in ways we’re not even aware of. (Watch the film, I Am,

There is evidence that even plants and animals are affected by human thought and action. How much more other people?

With this in mind, read Jeannette’s article, and consider how much you are connected to and affect others by your choices.

At the end of the last century, German biochemist and ecology specialist, Frederic Vester, demonstrated six principles of optimum biological life, or “biotic potential.” He defined “biotic potential” as “the maximum capacity of organisms to grow and reproduce under ideal conditions.”

These six growth force principles underlie all of our life-giving actions. These can be applied to individuals, as well as faith communities and other groups.

I will discuss these in a series of six articles.

The first growth force principle is Interdependence. Imagine a person standing on the edge of a pond. In the middle of the pond is a lily pad. The person takes a rock and throws the rock onto the lily pad. The primary effect is that the lily pad is pushed under the water. However there are additional effects as the waves from the splash ripple out across the pond.

As individuals and people of influence, we must be aware that our decisions and actions will have an effect not only on our specific target (the lily pad), but on others as well. Influence and leadership that embody interdependence includes an awareness of both the short-term and long-term effects of decisions.

For me this can have a practical implication for something like recycling. Choosing to participate in recycling means that in the short run, I need to have a way to have my recyclables collected and returned to places that will do this. Fortunately my city of Phoenix provides an extra bin at my house especially for this purpose. But I also have to decide to take the time to rinse out containers. In the short term, this is extra work for me. But if I’m also looking at my interdependence with all of creation, I have to look long-term and I see that the extra work now will (hopefully) positively impact the environment if more people make this choice

Do you have some big decisions to make in the coming weeks or months?

As you consider decisions you need to make for yourself and groups you art part of, consider some interdependent questions you may want to incorporate into the process:

  • What effect will this decision have on others?
  • How will this decision play out months or years down the road?
  • Who will feel the impact of this decision both positively and negatively?
  • How can we minimize the negative effects of this decision?
  • How can we maximize the positive effects of this decision?
  • What short-term gains will we see?
  • What long-term gains can we expect?

Practice asking these questions as you make both personal and group decisions; then see the impact they will have for potential growth.

* Source unknown

Royalty-free image by Stephen Eastop in Melbourne, Australia; retrieved from:




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