San Francisco has some of the best people watching in the world. Trust me on this one. A few days ago, I was sitting in a park wondering about the people nearby. There was the elderly couple, the clearly tourist family of three, the young man shopping his drawing prowess promising a picture in less than ten minutes and the religious missionaries on the corner sharing their message with anyone who would look up.
Unexamined these individuals look independent. And they are. But they are also much more than that. We spend our lives believing that what we do is our business and ours alone. Western culture, perhaps more so in the US, leads us to believe that we are living in the land of unconnected individuality. But it simply isn't true. It's a fallacy of the first order.
We are not solely independent individuals. We never were.
We are interdependent. Connected. Strengthened by ties, both visible and invisible.
And here's why - humanity's Pioneering Spirit.
Yep, that age-old cry to fulfill our fate. Often assumed as an individualistic ideal, it isn't really individual at all. It's a group effort. The pioneers (yes, I did just evoke the spirits of my ancestors), did not traverse the better part of what is now the US, alone. It was not an individual pursuit. Surviving the wilderness with a covered wagon and a rifle is not a task for one man or woman. It's a group effort. It's a neighborhood. A network that unites and rises to the task.
Now, of course, we can say that the pioneers lived such a long time ago and well, 21st century life is much different. It's a fair point. But the need for interdependence is not all that much different. Our desire to blaze new trails and build things of merit lives on. Our stories should not be lived alone.
Even Lewis had Clark. And Sacagawea.