From your best friend in the world to the person that just cut you off at an intersection, we each have some sort of relationship with everyone around us.
This isn’t necessarily a romantic relationship, a friendly relationship or even one we acknowledge. We all certainly have intimate relationships, though, and those are the most impactful and important ones to us.
Most of these unknown relationships are not of a truly personal nature at all. But merely by these relationships existing, we each get something from every single unknown relationship and, in return, we each put something into all of them as well. Simply put, what can we possibly get from these complete strangers? And in return, what do we give to these people we may have never even met?
You can say it’s crazy to think that you could have any substantial impact on someone you have never even met, and you’re quite correct. But, not just because I am a student, a school system is a perfect example of how these give and take relationships can work on a large scale.
Not taking into account their additional funding, schools are allotted a specific amount of money based on the number of students that attend them. That means that in a school of, say, 500, you would be responsible for a sliver of that school’s student budget. You simply being there, are responsible for one in every 500 sheets of paper to run through the printer and for keeping the heat on about three minutes out of every day. A small part, but all together you have a functioning school. This starts to become even more important when we see that we get a lot more out of these relationships than we put in.
As the old saying goes, what is the sound of one hand clapping? Well, there isn’t one. One hand is one hand, but two of them are two hands and applause. If you start to look at relationships, and especially communities, in this way, you start to see how important these relationships are on a large scale. If there are 30,000 people living alone in the woods, that is just 30,000 people. But 30,000 people living together in a city are 30,000 people and roads, a movie theatre and a hospital. 35 million people living together in a country are 35 million people and a functioning democratic government. We are each a small part of these large systems that benefit our lives, and we have these relationships to every other part.
If this is what we do get out of these relationships, then what we need to put into them is quite simple really. Whether it is a deeply personal and close relationship or an entirely unknown and distant one, just be as much a part of it as anyone else is and be thankful for what benefits they bring to your life.
Thank you so much to my favourite person in the world, Jessica Singleton, who reads over these with me and helps edit them. Thank you to Kristi Patton at the Penticton Western News for giving me this opportunity to even write them. Thank you to the two best English teachers I’ve had who have helped my writing grow so much, and if they’re reading this together I hope they know who they are. And of course, to that person with their right turn signal on that went straight through a four-way stop even though it was my turn, thank you for being one 30,000th of the reason I have a hospital to go to when you inevitably hit me.
Kevin Styba-Nelson is a Grade 12 student at Princess Margaret Secondary School and a regular contributor to the Western News.