Regarding reciprocity…

Humanity is a complex, dynamic system of oneness – that’s a fact.  We doesn’t act in a unified way (unfortunately) that’s also a fact but that doesn’t change the reality that the human race is a system of oneness, it just shows we don’t know how to operate the system.

A system of oneness is a system of reciprocity and it’s more than just the simple action of give and take. It’s all about co-creating environments and conditions that work for all involved. There are many examples of reciprocity in nature – examples like the hermit crab and the anemone.

The hermit crab finds its home in vacated shells of whelks or other mollusc.  One species of hermit crab carries a large pink anemone on its shell so that when octopi or fish who like to feed on the hermit crab approach, the anemone shoots out it brilliantly coloured tentacles, and stings the intending predators.  This is a good example of living co-operation as the crab returns the compliment to the anemone, which feeds on the droppings and discarded food of the crab. When the crab needs to move to a larger home, it gently detaches the anemone and takes it along.


In human relations, just as in nature, reciprocity creates an actual environment.  Once this environment is created all manner of new and wonderful things can happen and the co-operation we need to learn in order to survive and prosper will get a real chance to take hold.

Apart from the obvious, the difference between us and hermit crabs with their anemone companions is that we have free will.  We get to decide what to do, and in our efforts to do what is best for ourselves we can think that acting only from self-interest will be the most advantageous.  This isn’t true.  It is now widely believed that our greatest advantage lies not in individualism but in reciprocity and cooperation – and that’s not just because it’s a ‘nicer’ way to be but because it’s a more practically advantageous way to act.

Like the anemones and the crabs we share our planet.  Whether we like it or not we are interconnected.  One family.  One unit.  As well as being undeniably cousins according to our genome, we are all now living in a world that is becoming increasingly smaller.  Like an extended family packed into a small house we need to accept our interconnectedness and work out how to get on with each other.

1 Comment

Leave a Reply