If one person falls, the other person can reach out to help.
But those who are alone when they fall have no one to help them.
(Book of Ecclesiastes)
INTERACTIVENESS, AT LEAST AS IT APPLIES TO PEOPLE, IS THE WILLINGNESS TO ACT UPON OTHERS — AND BE ACTED UPON BY THEM. It means we acknowledge the interconnectedness of our lives and embrace the privilege of engaging and influencing each other.
Just being willing to act is important, and some people are too lazy to do even that. But it’s even more important to interact, that is, to interweave our lives with the lives around us in ways that are beneficial. The word “engagement” is too good a word to limit to the process of marriage betrothal. We need to “engage” the lives of many other people also. And interactiveness is more than a deed to be done once in a while. It should be a habit, a pattern of living, and even a character trait.
It is a fact that we can be surrounded by other people and not interact with them. In some situations, interacting is not polite, and I’m not suggesting that the person next to you on the airplane or the subway is always going to be someone you need to interact with. But in many cases where interaction would be perfectly fine, we still don’t do it, and that’s a shame. Much of the goodness of life is lost when we don’t unplug the “earphones” through which we’re listening to our private “music” and communicate with some real, live human beings.
(1) Strength. As the wise saying from Ecclesiastes indicates, we are stronger when our lives are connected than when they are isolated.
(2) Learning. Book learning alone is a poor education, and those who don’t engage with real people are usually deficient in their wisdom.
(3) Honor. We honor others by interacting with them. Few gifts are greater than simply saying, “I am willing to communicate with you.”
(4) Joy. As social creatures, we experience a deep sense of rightness when we interact well. Even when difficult, the process produces joy.
All things considered, then, we ought to welcome interaction with others. It’s not a chore; it’s a blessing. And here is something else to think about: we should be the kind of people with whom others want to interact. Whether or not we’re “attractive” outwardly, inwardly we can all have characters that attract rather than repel.
“Bring thy soul and interchange with mine” (Pascal).