When we hear the word "relationship" we generally think of our connection with another person, especially in terms of a romantic relationship. However, relationship is fundamental to just about everything in our world. A pen is a "pen," because of it's relationship to our hand and to a piece of paper. The function of a pen has to do with such relationships. We can pick any particular "thing" and look at the relationships involved in this "thing." For instance, we can examine a pine tree and see that it is made of quite a few internal (to the tree) relationships, which are also connected as relationships to "things" outside of the tree. The pine needles are connected (or have relationships) to the branches that supply support for the needles and also contain two types of tubes. One set of tubes allow the sugars produced by the chlorophyl in the needles to be transported to other parts of the tree. The other set of tubes transport water and minerals from the soil to the needles. In this latter relationship between the needles and the tubes carrying water, we can see that other sets of relationships extend to the context outside of the tree, including the soil and water. The soil is made of all kinds of decayed and decaying organic materials, ground up rocks, and so forth. The water is connected to the extensive water cycle that is driven by heat from the sun causing evaporation. The water taken in by a pine tree may have been at some point in time in oceans, lakes, and rivers from around the globe. Once we begin to look our world from the point of view of relationships, we very quickly begin to realize how completely interconnected we are with everything else.

Essentially, relationships are systems of interconnections. And, in turn, systems are comprised of relationships.

To really understand ourselves, others, and our technological and biophysical worlds, we need to examine the extent, depth, nature, and dynamics of the relationships within which we live.

Some Key Questions:

  • What relationships comprise a specific "thing"?
  • How does " not seeing relationships" affect the way various social, political, and business systems work?
  • How could "seeing relationships" affect the way various social, political, and business work?



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