Posted: May 12, 2016 in Uncategorized

Human life is designed around connections. The ways, degrees and breadth of our connections are significantly important to how we value the fabric of our lives. We cannot dismiss other people as being unimportant regardless of how they measure against the various measurements of life’s values. We need people, all people.

There are very few of us who would prefer a hermit’s life. Even if you desire to live alone, I suspect that you don’t live in total absence of interaction with other people. In the creation story found in the Jewish Scriptures, “the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.'” Thus one interpretation is that humankind needs relationships; God’s human creation needed a companion, someone with whom to connect.

We find meaning in life through the human connections we have. The proliferation of social electronic communities gives evidence to the value society places on connection. Facebook even calls everyone with whom we connect a “friend” whether or not we actually know them. Some of our connections are very minimal, just a slight acknowledgment of each other while passing on a sidewalk; some are life-long, and intensely intimate

While walking the streets of. St. Louis, I have connected in many ways both verbally and non-verbally. If connections like those could be measured, we could learn much about the ways we connect and how they impact our lives. I’ve imagined a diagnostic tool such as a meter, not unlike a galvanometer, that would measure the energy that passes between individuals when they meet or pass each other on sidewalks. It would measure the connection of people who are very close friends or coupled to total strangers. It would cross all the different strata of society: ethnic, social, cultural, educational, economic, sexual orientation and gender identity, political persuasion and religious. These and other variables would be factored into the results to discover how they impact the importance and depth of our interactions. The results would only be descriptive, not prescriptive.

The meter would register the energy expended in both brain activity. It would also register emotional responses, both positive and negative—joy, anger, or increased heart rate and Palm-sweating from fear or emotional/sexual attraction. It would register physical responses including sight recognition, a slight nod of the head, or a hint of a smile to a fist bump, a hug, or even a kiss. On the negative side it would include a facial scowl to brandishing and even using a weapon.

The data, untraceable to specific individual but rather creating patterns of connections—active or passive, engaged or distant, feelings of attraction or avoidance, gain or loss—could help us become more aware of our interactions and communicative connections, however important or insignificant they may seem.

We need to embrace and honor the our connections, even the casual passing of a stranger on the street. All people are gifts to us; they each enrich the designs of our lives.

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