Did you know that you are part of a complex organism?

Yes you ARE an organism, but you are also part of that complex living organism that is your community. And you are not isolated from that community in any way. You require it to live.

Contemporary American culture seems to want to convince us that we’re all lone wolfs, that we’re all islands, and that we can do everything ourselves. But in reality we are each absolutely powerless on our own. Sounds terrible, it’s not.

Each of us is a branch on a tree we call our community. Each branch grows foliage that turns the sun’s light into energy for the tree, nourishing it. The more healthy branches, the more energy, the taller and stronger the tree can grow.

No person can possibly sustain the tree alone. No person contributes completely to that tree, every person in the tree has a role to play in it’s life. In fact, the more branches that are around us, the more we get out of it. But if I cut myself off that tree, the tree will go on living without my branch, but as a branch without a tree, I will die quickly. It’s not GOOD for the tree to cut a branch off, certainly but the tree can live without a branch, as long as there are other branches. The branch can’t live without the tree.

Our community is energized by each branch of the tree, and in turn, each branch is fed by the community. The roots of the community are the community’s social systems, customs, the ecosystem, traditions and culture. With weak or rotten roots, the tree is in danger, and if the tree is in danger, the branches are as well.

Participating in our community and recognizing that without it we would die is vital to understanding that the American myth of the lone wolf hero is a lie. When we nourish our community, our community nourishes us. It is in our best interest to make sure every branch in our tree is healthy. We can do that by supporting strong social systems at the root of our community that save branches from danger. Even if we are healthy now, if the roots are unhealthy, and the branches around us shrivel, it’s not long before that blight will pass to us.

Are you nourishing the tree of your community? Do you see yourself as an island, or part of a complex system where every part plays an important role in the health of that system? Don’t allow yourself to sever your branch from your tree!