Sodium is one of the most unstable of all the elements. Drop a small lump of pure sodium into ordinary water and it will explode with enough force to kill. Chlorine is even more notoriously hazardous. It was the element of choice for many of the First World War poison gasses. Yet put these two together and the result is a substance we cherish, even crave . . . table salt.
Pure sodium has its uses: as a coolant for nuclear reactors in liquid form; as a vapor in streetlights to produce a brilliant yellow light. Chlorine is used as an antiseptic and in the production of plastics, insecticides, and paints. If either is ingested alone, death will result. But the combination of the two in molecular form, NaCl, is necessary for human life.
Using the title from Reuben Welch’s book-long poem: we really do need each other. Like sodium and chlorine, individuals can perform useful, beneficial functions. But it is when two or more band together that wondrous things can happen. In a good marriage, each partner is enlivened to be things he/she could never be alone. Almost everyone knows the African proverb: It takes a village to raise a child. In 1990 Namibia gained its freedom from 106 years of colonial slavery because millions of people around the globe banded together to put economic pressure on South Africa resulting in capitulation.
One of my goals is to write good books. To whatever extent my writing abilities might be laudable, no one would ever read one if not for copyeditors, proofreaders, graphic designers, publishing formatters, marketing gurus, and the like. Put simply, I could never produce a book on my own.
The quest for positive self-development and improvement is a good and necessary component for every individual. As each one of us discovers and hones our personal talents, it then behooves us to find ways to combine our abilities with those of others to help make the world a better place.