Our Great Struggle for Interdependence (333 words)

by Samir Selmanovic on April 20, 2010

Everything is in a dialogue with its ‘other.’ Electron and proton. Sea and land. Day and night. Male and female. Individual and community. Finite and infinite. Spirit and matter. To know who I am, I must also know who you are. To know who we are, we must also know who they are. So is with religion. To be, my authority, my experience, my community, my mystery and my miracles are not enough.

I have to remap my reality to include–in tension and in gratitude–‘the other.’ We can learn from them, we can learn we will never be them, and we can learn that although we will never be them we need them. It is vitality and beauty of ‘the other’ that make us aware of our limits in a healthy way.

How do we live as custodians of our beautiful story in the world of many beautiful stories? How do we love our beloved mystery when we need other mysteries in order to live? How can we fulfill the promises of our faith to the world when doing so depends on us helping them fulfill promises of their faith?

To love well, we thought we only need to know the object of our love. Now, we see the object as a subject with her own love. What others see and experience when they see us, hear us, live with us–we now understand–matters.

Interdependence has always sustained our lives. I am because we are. We are because we and they are together. Yet, like never before in human history, we are actually becoming aware of this. Dialogue is a principle of life! And of our survival! While our human ancestors fought for independence, ours is The Great Struggle for Interdependence.

These are times like no other in history. This is a new clearing. New space. New time. Holy insecurity. Holy weakness. Holy awkwardness.

Can we learn to thank ‘the other’ for our own meaning? Can we allow ‘the other’ to revitalize our being?

  • http://www.interfaithspiritquest.com Sheila

    It's more than using 'them' to learn something, it's about allowing each person or group of individuals to be their unique self – and enjoying this uniqueness. Instead of forcing change (force being defined whereby we think 'I don't like you because you're not like me') upon them through some form of evangelism, perhaps we just offer up our own uniqueness in hopes that 'they' will see something they can identify with.

  • Mike

    Samir: You make me think. Can you unpack some more, “helping them fulfill promises of their faith?” Thanks.

  • elizabethadamseilersphd

    Who is “the other”? How might we complicate the discussion by imagining non-human animals both as “the other” and part of our broader circle of inclusion?

  • http://www.samirselmanovic.com/ Samir Selmanovic

    Hi Mike, sorry for a late reply here.

    I meant that every religion has promises for the world (more justice, beauty, hope, love). And to give those blessings to the world, each of our groups need to work interdependently with another. Take hunger or environment for example. Christians, even if they all get mobilized, cannot solve the problem. Our religions are pushed to one another to solve problems.

  • http://www.samirselmanovic.com/ Samir Selmanovic


    I LOVE that notion. Otherwise corny movie The Day the Earth Stood Still has this great line by an alien reply to humans who use phrase “our planet” saying something like, “Our? This planet belongs to all of life on it.”

  • Nate

    Matthew 11:29 Jesus says, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.”nnIf we are truly looking for peace, we need to look to the Prince of Peace, Jesus not to others for our identity. Jesus has invited us to the most awesome relationship imaginable, a direct, vibrant relationship with the living God. Believe on His name, surrender your life to Himand you will find meaning and hope. nnJohn 14:6 “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me”.

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