We Need Each Other

I have recently been re-reading Stephen Covey’s classic book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. I was struck by something he said that relates to the Coronavirus.

He says that we begin life as infants, totally dependent on others, until we become more and more independent as the years go by. We get to a point where we can take care of ourselves.

Covey then speaks of the continuum of being interdependent. This has to do with our relationship with others. Covey says, “interdependence is the paradigm of we – we can do it, we can cooperate, we can combine our talents and abilities and create something greater together.” We were designed by God to be interdependent.

If you think about it, we cannot achieve maximum effectiveness as a community without interdependence. This pandemic has caused us to truly understand how everyone has a role. Everyone’s job is of value. We need each other.

I recently read some very insightful words about our work from author Lester DeKoster. He shows us how interdependent we are to one another through our work. He says:

Work is the form in which we make ourselves useful to others . . . in which others make themselves useful to us. We plant [with our work]; God gives the increase to unify the human race . . .

[Look at] the chair you are lounging in . . . Could you have made it for yourself? . . . How [would you] get, say, the wood? Go and fell a tree? But only after first making the tools for that, and putting together some kind of vehicle to haul the wood, and constructing a mill to do the lumber and roads to drive on from place to place? In short, a lifetime or two to make one chair! . . . If we . . . worked not forty but one-hundred-forty hours per week we couldn’t make ourselves from scratch even a fraction of all the goods and services that we call our own. [Our] paycheck turns out ot buy us the use of far more than we could possibly make for ourselves in the time it takes us to earn the check . . . Work . . . yields far more in return upon our efforts than our particular jobs put in . . .

Imagine that everyone quits working, right now! What happens? Civilized life quickly melts away. Food vanishes from the shelves, gas dries up at the pumps, streets are no longer patrolled, and fires burn themselves out. Communication and transportation services end, utilities go dead. Those who survive at all are soon huddled around campfires, sleeping in caves, clothed in raw animal hides. The difference between [a wilderness] and culture is simply, work.

I hope that in these unusual times we come to appreciate and recognize how every person’s role is significant and how we truly do need each other.

Richard E Simmons III is the founder and Executive Director of The Center for Executive Leadership and a best-selling author.


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