The organizing principle that seems to have worked well for human and related species is one of interdependence of individuals with each other, each unique; And further an interdependence of the group as a whole between it and its unique individual parts, called you and me.
Left alone there is an astounding individual and collective reaction to loss or threat of loss, of a single or a group of individuals. Best examples of automatic concern for the welfare of others — recent accounts of reactions to natural disasters where many are threatened and also the collective response to a single biker trapped under a burning car.– or an improvident desperately ill young man failing to have purchased health insurance.
The most successful cultural and political institutions we design in law and practices to further the goals of the whole group reflect that principle when the worth of the individual is also recognized in his/her protection.
In a lifetime we each create and are impacted by many ripples. One may recognize the beginning of the dying process to be when the ripples become less frequent and we begin to become less and less relevant to the flourishing of other life. This as well as ourselves being less directly stirred by the greater current.
Ms. King raises the question not only of personal legacy but also; then why should the aging care about the future? Most do.
I do and I ponder the destiny of a culture that celebrates the cult of the individual and ignores the interdependence; And denies the value of collective goals, even their existence, in this group called mankind.
(These rambling thoughts were inspired by a column by Joan King in the Gainesville Times today. They are also posted on that blog.)