I obtained my degree in Microbiology and worked in that field for many years before I got bench ‘burnout’. My natural tendency is to refer back to those lessons as I view my own life and the lives or those people around me. These are my observations as I close the door on 2006 and look out the window towards 2007.
Symbiotic relationships are defined as an interspecific interaction in which one species, the symbiont, lives in or on another species, the host.
There are five established types of symbiotic relationships (depending on which field you examine):
Neutralism: Both organisms are unaffected.
Competition: Neither organism benefits.
Parasitism: One organism benefits and the other is harmed.
Commensalism: one organism benefits, the other is unaffected.
Mutualism: Both organism benefits.
I think part of my ‘issue’ with 2006 was the many parasitic, competitive, and sometimes neutral relationships I not only witnessed, but in which I played an active role. When I think about my natural tendency to disengage from others when in conflict or facing crises, I think of the neutralism that is so easy to try to defend as being open-minded, or easy-going. Yet we criticize openly the politician who does this as a “fence-straddler”. Neutralism kills in its inability to affect or be affected.
I think also of my own natural tendency to compete. I LOVE to compete…unfortunately I also HATE to lose, so competition may not be the best, most profitable relationship for me…or others. In the words of this lesson…neither species benefits. Competition kills in its overwhelming need to win.
I think of parasitism. You may not see this one and if you don’t it could be you are either a host or parasite yourself. You see, the parasite is taking what it needs at a real cost to the host. There are unfortunately many parasitic marriages, friendships, even…unfortunately….parents. Another key problem with parasitism is the host will eventually ‘die’ from the parasite relationship, and not even sense it coming until it’s too late. Parasitism kills in its ‘take-take-take’ mentality.
Commensalism may seem more ‘acceptable’ and I suppose to the extent that no life is taken in the relationship it is less costly, however; it still takes a toll. It’s much like the person who takes and takes and takes; either emotionally or physically or spiritually and rarely or never gives back. The other party may not be harmed (to the point of death), and may think they are unaffected, but I would submit that there is still a cost.
I’m praying for mass-mutualism is 2007. I think the bulk of my marriage is mutualistic (except when one of us, usually me, gets a bit selfish). I hope to improve current relationships and form new relationships that are mutualism at its best. They are benefiting both parties and that benefit is spread to others. I think that’s what Jesus desires from humans.
Here’s to abundance in blessings in 2007…and I hope and pray the feeling is mutual!