Collaboration

Did the first egg roll down the hill, hatch, and then cross the road? Or did the first chicken cross the road and lay an egg that rolled down the hill?

We might as well ask which came first: leaves capturing sunlight to dispatch photosynthetic energy down into the ground, thereby nurturing rain-drinking roots; or roots sending water up the trunk and branches into sunlight-capturing leaves. Everything is embraced within rhythms of collaboration and no isolated phase or entity can exist apart from all the others. It may well be that our questions about beginnings and endings could not be asked if we were not sitting right here and now in the middle. We are as much a road as the chicken that crosses us. In his Zhivago poem “Hamlet”, Pasternak quotes a Russian saying “to live your life is not to cross a field”. Perhaps that’s because life itself is a field and so we have nowhere else to go, and no one else to become.

Speaking of collaboration, there’s a Sufi story about a blind man and a lame man who are sitting at opposite sides of a tea house. They are both lamenting that they cannot travel to the Emperor’s feast because of their disabilities. A wise man, overhearing them, realizes that if the puny, lame man sat astride the shoulders of the robust, blind man and pointed out obstacles along the way (“Precipice on the left, chicken-crossing dead ahead”), they could, together, make the journey.

Today it seems that many of the tapestries woven of collaboration–each a way of combining different perspectives, abilities and resources–have grown threadbare. Wives and husbands are finding that the center no longer holds in their unions; Democrats and Republicans, like chickens on steroids, are crossing to the other side of the isle when they see one another; and the young and the old inhabit different worlds. Meanwhile evolutionists and creationists are stuck in traffic because they have forgotten how to car pool.

Our planet—which in its very DNA is a field of collaboration—is in trouble because of these growing disassociations among its inhabitants. The human realm seems to have forgotten its own genesis, thereby causing the whole realm to fall out of harmony. Rain and sun have turned their back on one another, leaving regions of drought some places and washing away coastal communities in others. Evolutionists have forgotten to appreciate the mystery of their own lives, which have sprung from the greater field of a living planet. And creationists have forgotten to give back to Mother Earth, who has given them the ground under their feet and the sky above their heads.

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