I’ve heard it several times over the past few days leading up to the 4th of July:
“Happy Interdependence Day!”
This simple phrase takes the idea of independence, in which much of our national and personal identities are grounded and asks us to consider its limitations as a guiding principle. Independence is a trait that is much admired in our society and is memorialized in our Declaration of Independence. You might believe that independence is what made this country strong by providing the freedom to pursue individual and national economic goals without the restrictions imposed by a ruling class or foreign power. But it took a country of people with the same ideals pulling in the same direction to bring the United States to a position of prominence in the world.
Taken to an extreme, independence can actually become isolationist and even elitist keeping us separate from and allowing us to exert our will on others. Hypothetically (or in reality, if you’ve been paying attention) this could manifest as the will of a small sector of society wielding disproportionate influence in our country’s domestic economic policies and foreign military actions, for example.
On the other hand, the freedom to pursue our individual and collective goals also allows us to consider our connectedness and interdependence and act to ensure that they are preserved and prioritized when needed. In the words of Chief Seattle:
“Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.”
I know that it’s been done many times before by different groups with varying interests, but if I were to write a Declaration of Interdependence, I would begin by suggesting that we hold these truths expressed by Chief Seattle as self-evident.
Now I’ll get off my political soapbox for the time being, take my own advice and turn to more cooperative thoughts in future blogs.