The world is not made up of separate parts that together make up a whole, but rather, a whole that is made up of different parts that are related to and interact with each other.

Interdependence means that two or more people or things are dependent on each other to work. Interconnection refers to the mutual connection between two or more things. The following is a story about the importance of interdependence and interconnection.

A folktale from the Philippines tells of a large family that lived in a large palm tree house. One day the different members of the family began to argue about who was the most important member. Soon enough, even the parts of the house were arguing.

The poles that held the house high off the ground argued: “I am the most important because I was driven into the ground first!” To this the rest of the poles quarrelled: We are just as important, without us you couldn’t do your job!”

The floor then chimed in: “You poles would be irrelevant if we weren’t here connecting you!”

The cross supports under the floor cried out: “Without us you’d bend and break!”

The walls shouted down to the floor: “Who would walk on you if we weren’t here to create rooms?”

To that the roof beams shouted, “You couldn’t stand up if it weren’t for us!”

The ceiling: “I hold the walls together!”

Finally, the roof: “I keep the rain from pouring in and rotting all of you!”

Then there was a pause. In the silence, all the parts realised that they were all of great and equal use to the whole house. “None of us is important without each other” they eventually all sang out in unison. No sooner did the house stop quarrelling but the family did too. The family, the story goes, lived in peace and harmony from then on, and word has it the house is still standing too.

Questions for reflection/ discussion

What is the moral of this tale?

What does the story teach us about how nature works?

What do we learn from this story about how to live? What does it teach us about how to relate to others and the world?

Why is it important for different parts in a system to co-operate with each other? What happens when they don’t?