So today on the radio I heard about a new app from Pampers that alerts parents when their child's diaper is wet. This is a great example of creating a need where there isn't one. With this as part of our pathological trajectory into 'technological advances' we will soon not have to be in relationship with each other at all! This gets to the heart of what I fear about the direction we're heading and I find it a sad commentary. Technology advances us in many ways, for sure. But this?
What about the tracking our kids with attention and using our senses to know when a diaper needs to be changed? What about simply being in touch, being human? What about interaction and responsiveness to one another? Do we really need an app that tells us to change our kid's diaper?
This tech thing is out of control. Soon, all that makes us human; all that keeps us in touch with the relational animals that we are will be so 'tech-ed' out of us that we won't recognize that we need one another; that we need connection. Maybe it seems like a stretch to go from a Pampers app to the loss of our humanity but it's one example of many, that keeps pulling us away from our sentient selves into more disconnected automatons.
In my protest of all things that are stripping us of our natural impulses, here are 5 things I love about the relational beings that we are:
1. We give. There is that impulse to assist. To offer. To celebrate the joys and successes of others. To mend the pains and wounds of the people we love; and even people we don't know. It is human to want to share ourselves in this way. It is our nature. This is a beautiful thing.
2. We receive. We receive from others. When we say yes to anyone who offers to help or bestows us a gift or a service of some kind, or eye contact that lets us know they get something important to us, we recognize in them our shared humanity. We also receive from the natural world (with which we are always in constant relationship) every time we appreciate a sunset, catch lightening bugs, have a drink of water, play in the ocean, plant a garden, tend to a bee hive, smell the morning air, feel the heat of the sun on our skin, sit around a fire and feel the heat, see the flames.
3. We allow ourselves to be seen. Or maybe we don't. But we WANT to be seen; that is generally true for everyone. It may scare us a little (or a lot) but if there is no judgment, we, in our personalities, need to be seen. We want to be recognized without judgment. Even in the hidden places, we would like some loving company.
4. We argue and misunderstand each other. And then we figure it out and find resolution. The messiness that is part of the nature of human relationships reminds us that we're all fallible. We make mistakes. We can apologize and forgive. We can be forgiven.
5. Face to face, in person contact and interaction is the best part. Touching. Hugging. Dancing together. A tear. A smile. A head thrown back in laughter. Appreciating a piece of music with someone. A silent moment, shared. Reading a passage from a favorite book. Tenderness in a touch or a glance. Direct interaction with each other celebrates our relational nature.
I'm thinking of a well-known poem by Mary Oliver. It is titled, "Wild Geese" and I will leave you with it to take in as you may:
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles
through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves. Tell me about despair, yours,
and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain are
moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting -
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.