Paul Waddell writes that one of the foundational virtues of justice is a vision of interdependence and solidarity. "Interdependence suggests not only that we need and depend on one another, but also that unity exists between us is so penetrating and extensive that there is no way any of us can exist apart from everyone else."
"Instead of envisioning us as ioslated and utterly disparate individuals who have little connection to each other besides theconnections we choose or are willing to accept," Waddell writes referring to Pope John XXIII, "John saw that human beings are morally and spiritually connected to one another and, therefore, responsible for one another. Solidarity makes justice both intelligible and imperative because it recognizes that human life, from first to life, is shared life; as Daniel Maguire wrote, 'Everything about us is social."
Lisa Gee, in her fine, against-the-grain, counter-cultural book on cross-gender friendship, Friends: Why Men and Women are from the Same Planet, observes:
"All the articles in the women's magazines and the self-help books on love and relationships tell me that there are two fundamental things I have to get right before I embark on a relationship with a man. First of all I need to make sureI'm OK. That, if I don't come entirely fresh-faced, happy and baggage-free, I at least understand my own hang-ups, neuroses and past relationship disasters, and can keep them at arm's length from any future relationship. That 'co-dependent' tendencies I might have developed (or, indeed been born with) have been psychoanalyzed, or group-therapized, and role-played into submission. Once I'm reasonably confident that I'm all right, I can start looking for a man (because if I am looking for one, then, obviously, there's still something wrong, as I'm not genuinely independent), by going to the sort of places and and doing the sort of things where I might meet one by accident. Once I've met a man, I then need to ascertain that he's OK too. If he isn't, I must avoid getting involved at all costs, because otherwise his problems will end up becoming my problems, it will all go horribly wrong and I will get badly hurt. Because I am healthy and independent, I should only get involved with someone who's fine and independent."
Gee continues, "In a world where it's everyone's individual responsibility to look after themselves, not only is it no longer our responsibility to look after anyone else, it is no one's responsibility to help us sort out our problems. So, who looks after those of us who, for some reason, either temporarily or permanently, can't cut it? The state? Their friends? Their blood relatives? Their doctor, therapist or dentist? A Charity? Another participant in the local Somethings Anonymous group? And why do we accept the underlying assumption that someone who has difficulties that he or she can't sort through his or her efforts alone has, by implication, nothing at all to give, either now or at some point in the future?"
Gee adds, "Because it's all down to us. If I'm OK, it's a dint of my own hard work. If he's not, it's because he hasn't done enough hard work, or he's got a bad attitude. Independence and individualism quash humility, which, if we are to function as effective members of society, is every bit as necessary as self-confidence and self-esteem are."
It seems like there are a growing number of Christians who are becoming aware of the excessive individualism in the Western world (and therefore, by and large, Western Christianity) at this hour. More and more Christians are talking about a vision of interdependence and community.
Gee adds something helpful and radical when it comes to justice, friendship, and interdependence.
"I want to release 'dependence' from its Western connotations of addiction and weakness. I think we should all be able to say that we depend on other people, and that they depend on us, without anyone commenting 'that sounds terrible.' If we value close, enduring relationships of all kinds, then the ability to depend on people must come to be considered as much of a virtue as being dependable. We need to practice dependence."
Gee points to the relationship between William Wordsworth and his sister, Dorothy. "They depended on each other for company, for understanding, and for financial security. They worked together (on Tales from Shakespeare, for instance), and were confident that only matters beyond their control--her illness, but not, notably, their passions--could separate them, and then only temporarily. They never assumed they'd both remain single...But their relationship and their dependence on each other, was, for them, healthy. It was comfortable, supportive, hugely beneficial to both brother and sister and far devoid of fun."
Going back toWaddell: "The only way to create a just social order is for socities to embrace a vision of solidarity and interdependence. Otherwise, social life easily degenerates into the survival of the fittest or, perhaps more accurately, the luckiest."