The last few months have been host to one natural disaster after another. It seems like every time I read the news I am confronted with more devastating reports about our world. Catastrophic earthquakes in Haiti, Chile, Mexico and Taiwan took countless lives and leveled an entire nation. A volcanic eruption in Iceland lead to weeks of international immobility due to flight cancellations and delays. A plane crash in Russia took the life of the Polish President and 96 other people and a mile-wide tornado in Mississippi left more Americans in the south homeless and heartbroken.
All of these natural disasters are effects of a cause, a global cause to which each of us contributes. Consider them to be symptoms of a worldwide disease that is escalating in severity due to our collective denial and avoidance of it. With so much evidence of depleting natural resources, toxic waste, climate change, irreparable harm to our food chain and rapidly increasing instances of natural disasters, why do we keep perpetuating the problem? Why do we continue marching at the same alarming beat? Why are we, the human race, sticking our heads in the sand when there is so much work to be done?
We are on the cusp of a significant turning point in history - either these instances of really terrible seemingly unstoppable catastrophic disasters will increase and get worse or we will wake up and make the changes we need to make to transform them into planetary peace and stability. It is up to us to choose, but first we must each take responsibility for our own part of the problem.
One hundred years ago, it would have been hard to believe the degree of interconnectedness we now experience. Television didn't exist. The Internet was decades away from even being an idea. You couldn't just hop on a plane and fly to another country; that was years away from being a reality. A century ago it was hard to imagine that everyone on the planet was actually sailing in the same boat. Few people would have understood - much less believed - the concept of the Butterfly Effect: that a butterfly flapping its wings in Los Angeles could set in motion a domino chain of events that could ultimately lead to an earthquake in Japan.
We are increasingly open to understanding how we are all connected and that if we sink the ship that we are all on, we all drown. However, we have simultaneously become so focused on our own life experiences that we think we are alone. In the not so distant past, we were close enough to our community to physically see how our actions impacted the group overall. Now it's just too easy to look the other way, or turn off the TV or computer and detach ourselves from the others.
So although we are globally interconnected, we are not part of a global community. The idea of community has become complicated in the modern world. Sure, when we go online to a social networking site it might feel like we are part of something; we might even call Facebook and Twitter our "community". The problem lies in the fact that we have no responsibility in these groups. We can simply plug in when we want, and hit "sleep" when we are done. In some cases, instead of truly connecting, we have actually created disconnections. The world has become smaller and bigger at the same time!
A true community is not just about being geographically close to someone or part of the same social web network. It's about feeling connected and responsible for what happens. Humanity is our ultimate community and everyone plays a crucial role.
This means that we can't create change in our world just with physical improvements alone. For example if you choose to drive a Prius, but you cut people off while you are driving, what good does driving a Prius really do? What we are starting to understand is that what we do - even if no one sees it - can still harm our humanity, our community, and be the cause of natural disasters. The good news is that what you do can also help.
The best part of today's online community is that we can be connected practically anywhere. We have an amazing opportunity to unite the world if we break through our limited realities where we've convinced ourselves we don't have to deal and change. Imagine the potential we have at our fingertips if we learn to use technology to create true connections among people - connections in which we feel responsible for one another.
Today when you log on to your online community, think about the potential you have at your fingertips to change the world.