Interdependence is when unique individual units which are connected so that actions by one affect all the others. It is neither dependence nor interdependence, but the complex interplay of both. These interdependence quotations explore the idea from many perspectives.

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If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.

— Aboriginal activists group, Queensland, 1970s, Often attributed to Lilla Watson, who said she was “not comfortable being credited for something that had been born of a collective process” — the attribution here is the one she accepted.

How selfish soever man may be supposed, there are evidently some principles in his nature, which interest him in the fortune of others, and render their happiness necessary to him, though he derives nothing from it except the pleasure of seeing it.

— Adam Smith

When a woman tells the truth she is creating the possibility for more truth around her.

— Adrienne Rich

A hundred times a day I remind myself that my inner and outer life depends on the labor of other [people], living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving. I am strongly drawn to the simple life and am often oppressed by the feeling that I am engrossing an unnecessary amount of the labor of my fellow [people]. I regard class differences as contrary to justice and, in the last resort, based on force. I also consider that plain living is good for everybody, physically and mentally.

— Albert Einstein

Ethics cannot be based upon our obligations toward [people], but they are complete and natural only when we feel this Reverence for Life and the desire to have compassion for and to help all creatures insofar as it is in our power. I think that this ethic will become more and more recognized because of its great naturalness and because it is the foundation of a true humanism toward which we must strive if our culture is to become truly ethical.

— Albert Schweitzer

This is a call to the living,
To those who refuse to make peace with evil,
With the suffering and the waste of the world. This is a call to the human, not the perfect,
To those who know their own prejudices,
Who have no intention of becoming prisoners of their own limitations. This is a call to those who remember the dreams of their youth,
Who know what it means to share food and shelter,
The care of children and those who are troubled,
To reach beyond barriers of the past
Bringing people to communion. This is a call to the never ending spirit
Of the common man, his essential decency and integrity,
His unending capacity to suffer and endure,
To face death and destruction and to rise again
And build from the ruins of life. This is the greatest call of all
The call to a faith in people.

— Algernon Black

No kind action ever stops with itself. One kind action leads to another. Good example is followed. A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees. The greatest work that kindness does to others is that it makes them kind themselves.

— Amelia Earhart

There is an endless net of threads throughout the universe…
At every crossing of the threads there is an individual.
And every individual is a crystal bead.
And every crystal bead reflects
Not only the light from every other crystal in the net
But also every other reflection
Throughout the entire universe.

— Anne Adams, an adaptation of one of the oldest written creations of humanity: “The Net of Jewels, or Indra’s Net”

If one is estranged from oneself, then one is estranged from others too. If one is out of touch with oneself, then one cannot touch others

— Anne Morrow Lindbergh

When people go within and connect with themselves, they realize they are connected to the universe and they are connected to all living things.

— Armand Dimele

We cannot build our own future without helping others to build theirs.

— Bill Clinton

We are more connected than ever before, more able to spread our ideas and beliefs, our anger and fears. As we exercise the right to advocate our views, and as we animate our supporters, we must all assume responsibility for our words and actions before they enter a vast echo chamber and reach those both serious and delirious, connected and unhinged.

— Bill Clinton

The Hopi Indians of Arizona believe that our daily rituals and prayers literally keep this world spinning on its axis. For me, feeding the seagulls is one of those everyday prayers.

— Brenda Peterson

Why love if losing hurts so much? We love to know that we are not alone.

— C. S. Lewis

We are born helpless. as soon as we are fully conscious we discover loneliness. we need others physically, emotionally, and intellectually. we need them if we are to know anything, even ourselves.

— C. S. Lewis

From the equality of rights springs identity of our highest interests; you cannot subvert your neighbor’s interests without striking a dangerous blow at your own.

— Carl Schurz

You cannot sink someone else’s end of the boat and still keep your own afloat.

— Charlie Brower

I am part of the sun as my eye is part of me. That I am part of the earth my feet know perfectly, and my blood is part of the sea. There is not any part of me that is alone and absolute except my mind, and we shall find that the mind has no existence by itself, it is only the glitter of the sun on the surfaces of the water.

— D. H. Lawrence

Yet, in spite of this world-wide system of linkages, there is, at this very moment, a general feeling that communication is breaking down everywhere, on an unparalleled scale.

— David Bohm

Indeed, to some extent it has always been necessary and proper for man, in his thinking, to divide things up, if we tried to deal with the whole of reality at once, we would be swamped. However when this mode of thought is applied more broadly to man’s notion of himself and the whole world in which he lives, (i.e. in his world-view) then man ceases to regard the resultant divisions as merely useful or convenient and begins to see and experience himself and this world as actually constituted of separately existing fragments. What is needed is a relativistic theory, to give up altogether the notion that the world is constituted of basic objects or building blocks. Rather one has to view the world in terms of universal flux of events and processes.

— David Bohm

Communication is a continual balancing act, juggling the conflicting needs for intimacy and independence. To survive in the world, we have to act in concert with others, but to survive as ourselves, rather than simply as cogs in a wheel, we have to act alone.

— Deborah Tannen

Each of us is a unique strand in the intricate web of life and here to make a contribution.

— Deepak Chopra

There is no true liberty for the individual except as he finds it in the liberty of all. There is no true security for the individual except as he finds it in the security for all.

— Edwin Markham

There is nobody in this country who got rich on their own. Nobody. You built a factory out there – good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory… Now look. You built a factory and it turned into something terrific or a great idea – God bless! Keep a hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.

— Elizabeth Warren

[People] may be said to resemble not the bricks of which a house is built, but the pieces of a picture puzzle, each differing in shape, but matching the rest, and thus bringing out the picture.

— Felix Adler

I propose that there is another kind of power based not on resources, things, or attributes, but rooted in the social and cooperative relations in which people are enmeshed by virtue of group life.

— Frances Fox Piven

I’m neither an optimist nor a pessimist. I am a dyed-in-the-wool possibilist! By this, I mean with an eco-mind, we see that everything’s connected and change is the only constant.

— Frances Moore Lappé

There is no such thing as a ‘self-made’ man. We are made up of thousands of others. Everyone who has ever done a kind deed for us, or spoken one word of encouragement to us, has entered into the make-up of our character and of our thoughts, as well as our success.

— George Matthew Adams

The way you get to know yourself is by the expression on other people’s faces.

— Gil Scott Heron

I have come into this world to see this: the sword drop from men’s hands even at the height of their arc of rage because we have finally realized there is just one flesh we can wound.

— Hafiz of Persia

Of course I believe in free enterprise, but in my system of free enterprise, the democratic principle is that there never was, never has been, never will be, room for the ruthless exploitation of the many for the benefit of the few.

— Harry S Truman

All human beings are interconnected, one with all other elements in creation.

— Henry Reed

No one can be perfectly free till all are free; no one can be perfectly moral till all are moral; no one can be perfectly happy till all are happy.

— Herbert Spencer

Everything that is in the heavens, on earth, and under the earth is penetrated with connectedness, penetrated with relatedness.

— Hildegard of Bingen

Every man who is high up loves to think that he has done it all himself; and the wife smiles, and lets it go at that.

— James M. Barrie

We have learned to say that the good must be extended to all of society before it can be held secure by any one person or any one class. But we have not yet learned to add to that statement, that unless all [people] and all classes contribute to a good, we cannot even be sure that it is worth having.

— Jane Addams

It is no longer appropriate to think only in terms of even my nation or my country, let alone my village. If we are to overcome the problems we face, we need what I have called a sense of universal responsibility rooted in love and kindness for our human brothers and sisters. In our present state of affairs, the very survival of humankind depends on people developing concern for the whole of humanity, not just their own community or nation. The reality of our situation impels us to act and think more clearly. Narrow-mindedness and self-centered thinking may have served us well in the past, but today will only lead to disaster. We can overcome such attitudes through the combination of education and training.

— Joanna Macy

It is the delusion that the self is so separate and fragile that we must delineate and defend its boundaries; that it is so small and so needy that we must endlessly acquire and endlessly consume; and that as individuals, corporations, nation-states, or a species, we can be immune to what we do to other beings.

— Joanna Macy

Kindness is the golden chain by which society is bound together.

— Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The greatest personalities that ever existed have been those who united human beings and put them on the road toward cooperation and effectiveness and peace. Those whom the world has held highest have helped to unite and not sever interconnectedness. They have not been the destroyers of differences but the harmonizer of differences.

— John Lovejoy Elliott

We are infinitely interconnected with each other and the rest of nature. We seek differentiation and liberation. for ourselves and others, and we remain connected — that is interdependence.

— Jone Johnson Lewis

The human condition is that we are individuals in relationship, and there are tensions between individuality and relatedness. A humanist spirituality is not one of complete dependence, nor of complete independence — neither condition can be defended as primary. Rather, a humanist spirituality is one of interdependence.

— Jone Johnson Lewis

Our true reality is in our identity and unity with all life.

— Joseph Campbell

Man is the creature that cannot emerge from himself, that knows his fellows only in himself; when he asserts the contrary, he is lying.

— Marcel Proust

We are made for co-operation, like feet, like hands, like eyelids, like the rows of the upper and lower teeth. To act against one another, then, is contrary to nature.

— Marcus Aurelius

We know from science that nothing in the universe exists as an isolated or independent entity.

— Margaret J. Wheatley

Relationships are all there is. Everything in the universe only exists because it is in relationship to everything else. Nothing exists in isolation. We have to stop pretending we are individuals that can go it alone.

— Margaret J. Wheatley

We seek not rest but transformation.
We are dancing through each other as doorways.

— Marge Piercy

[W]e are not going to deal with the violence in our communities, our homes, and our nation, until we learn to deal with the basic ethic of how we resolve our disputes and to place an emphasis on peace in the way we relate to one another.

— Marian Wright Edelman

Others are affected by what I am, and say, and do. So that a single act of mine may spread and spread in widening circles, through a nation or humanity. Through my vice I intensify the taint of vice throughout the universe. Through my misery I make multitudes sad. On the other hand, every development of my virtue makes me an ampler blessing to my race. Every new truth that I gain makes me a brighter light to humanity.

— Mark Collins
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