Independence is of high value to us all, (at least in America). We like to think that we are autonomous and can pretty much function on our own.Modernity reinforces this idea with all of the technological advances that remove the need for us to depend on those intimate tribes. We can get food without knowing or even interacting with anyone in the agricultural chain that gets to us. We are at the point now where we don’t even have to meet the milk man at the door. At first glance it might seem like the relationships week keep have become obsolete. Because of course if we have no practical need to engage with each other why would we deal with all of the challenges that come with these interactions.
Isn’t it the pressure of society we often seek to escape from? Our parents pressure us to make good on their investment in raising us, our friends pressure us to be loyal and have their back beyond a shadow of a doubt, our employers and clients need us to provide services and products to them. With the advent of so much technology, then why do we still maintain these relationships when there is no clear logic as to why they would be necessary.
Psychologist John Bowlby argues with his theory of attachment that we form emotional trust based bonds that are essential to human survival. To go further he states, our emotional connections impart a bias that causes us to make decisions we would not otherwise make if left to logical reasoning alone. Bowlby tested the behavior of baby monkeys to see if their attachments were based on their need to satisfy their hunger. With his experiment he proved that “contact comfort” was an essential part of attachment even taken instead of food.
This is a big deal to me, because all of my time in Los Angeles seemed to point at the opposite reason for our bonds. In a city like ours so many relationships are based on satisfaction of some need in a transactional way. People get together to network, or they do so, to form businesses or collectives, but so infrequently do people seem to get together because they simply enjoy each other. I know this happens but I wonder why we seem to set our work based relationships at a higher priority than those that offer us comfort. Some answers to this can be found in psychology but many more can be found right in front of our eyes.
There are times when we are forced to work with people we do not enjoy simply because we have a higher aim that unites us. In these cases we often form temporary alliances that serve to get us to a particular place in avoidance of some other alternative, but this often puts us in precarious positions. How many married couples have you heard of that “stay together for the kids” is that logical, safe, or even necessary?
Fundamentally all our relationships are based on some sort of agreement, founded in trust of one kind or another and we operate with them banking on the trust we have developed. So each of us has a responsibility to bring something to the table. I am very interested in what those things are?
And yet, sometime we fail to come to amicable agreements and decide it is better to limit interactions between ourselves or entire groups, and instead of colliding, we ignore each other coexisting, sometimes in the same proximity but with the least amount engagement possible. At what point is compromise no longer an option?
This month we will look at all of these bonds and why they exist, asking the question along the way of why and how we live, work , and love together here on this Earth. We may find that we are happy to connect and thrive with others, or only do so out of necessity, or perhaps that we are not as independent as we think.