coffee and the interconnectedness of things

Like many other people, I enjoy a cup of coffee (or several) in the morning.  And like many other people, the people around me are happy that I have access to coffee in the mornings.  But it is this easy access to coffee, alongside current events, that got me thinking.

Coffee reminds me of the interconnectedness of our world.  I live in a country that doesn’t, and indeed climatically can’t, support the growing of coffee.  (At least, not yet, but that’s a different conversation entirely.)

So for us to have access to coffee, particularly in the quantities to which some of us have become accustomed, we require the existence and maintenance of a significant, bordering on vast, physical and financial infrastructure that allows coffee to be grown somewhere, processed perhaps somewhere else, transported and ultimately sold in my local grocery store or coffee shop.

And this is true for so many things.  Take almost any product and substitute it for the word ‘coffee’ in the paragraph above and the paragraph remains true.

None of this is news.  Indeed, none of this has been news for centuries.  The extent to which global trade has broadened the range of products and opportunities available to each of us is clear just looking at the labels indicating country of origin.

What hit home for me this morning though is the extent to which I’ve come to take this global availability unreflectively for granted.  Though it isn’t always phrased in these terms, this is a point that apocalyptic fiction makes regularly.  When the zombie army washes over the land in World War Z, for instance, we see the occasional moments of life before global trade, when there’s no more coffee to be had.

It’s possible to view this global interdependence as a weakness, but I don’t see it that way.  Rather, I see it as a reminder of another basic theme in science fiction, the essential unity of humanity.

In our current world, there are differences between nations, between philosophies, and these differences sometimes result in wars and sometimes result in catastrophic inaction.  But these differences are our creation, and we should be able to resolve them and move forwards as the single family of humanity that we in fact are.

And this in turn leads to another theme in science fiction, though admittedly a less common theme, which revolves around the how behind this moving forward.  What might it take to create such a common direction of action.  What indeed.

~ by Jim Anderson on 31 March 2019.

One Response to “coffee and the interconnectedness of things”

  1. Yes. Good post.

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