Today, is July 5.
A few fireworks are still going off tonight in my neighborhood. Lots of flags still adorn local yards. Yesterday we celebrated the creation of the USA. The beginning of a grand experiment that is still unfolding.
We’re pretty lucky to be living in a county that, at least in its stated intent, offers us the possibility of individual freedom. Of course, what this really means is also subject to individual interpretation. Hence we celebrate July 4th from many different perspectives. And some of us don’t celebrate at all. Some of us think it’s all a farce. And the opportunity to voice that perspective is well, another angle on this very topic.
A day that should unify us seems to be driving us farther apart.
But I digress… there are ample voices out in the world debating the greatness of American independence or lack thereof. I do not wish to weigh in much further other than to use this as a lead-in to the subject of my thoughts today.
We’re very enamored with our independence, or our personal version of independence. In fact, we’re so caught up in this story that we lose sight of our connectedness as humans. And beyond that, our connectedness to nature and to the universe. I’m not sure that’s what the founding fathers had in mind.
We’re so worried about our individual survival, the success of our tribe, our brand of politics, or our nation that we lose awareness of the slow destruction of our humanity and of our world. Independence magnified and glorified becomes selfishness, entitlement, and self-destruction.
The counterbalance is interdependence.
Interdependence is the natural progression of independent people who have awakened to the difficult but necessary requirement to find common ground and work toward that common good. It means adding our individual story to a bigger, shared story. We are no longer focused on our individual freedom as an end onto itself.
I suppose it may not always be possible. The very day we celebrate was the result of a revolution required to break with tyranny. No space was given common ground. It became us vs. them in a battle for rights and resources. Andy why were those resources such a worry? Why withhold rights from people?
Because we are afraid. Afraid there will not be enough for us. Afraid we might lose some of our prosperity or our privilege. Afraid someone will take “what’s mine”, or restrict my freedom to say, or do or experience things as I please and as I think is right. My independence. We believe we live in a world of scarcity. And there are people that like to keep us thinking that way.
Anyway, here’s the point. I believe interdependence is the next level of independence. It’s the best of both worlds. If creates the possibility of synergy. It breaks down inequality. It expands our independence by creating new ways for us to contribute our unique gifts. It suggests that by caring for each other and for our planet, we can do better for ourselves. It is beyond politics and nations and tribes.
All pretty pie-in-the-sky, right?. I get it. We are so focused on our differences and on our wants that this is a mountain too high for us to climb. All I’m hoping for from this post is to provoke the idea that maybe we can do better. We can try to work toward interdependence in our families, our communities, and in our workplaces. Learning to value interdependence as a better version of independence may be our best and only hope for a better future.
Because here is the deal…we are already interdependent. We just like to pretend that we can survive and thrive independently. That somehow we are better off divided. That the earth is here to serve our needs. That only the strong survive. Maybe we should consider the consequences of those beliefs, (I think we’re already seeing them).
Maybe it’s time we established a new holiday where we celebrate the truth of how much we ultimately depend on each other and how much we depend on a healthy planet. Not as a replacement for the celebration of our past, but as a celebration of what those events made possible. At least we could celebrate those who are trying to bring this understanding into reality.
Been a while since I’ve written. This is a little out of my usual leadership, business, philosophy, spirituality framework, but it feels good to put some words out into the world even if they were a bit random. Maybe I will keep it going. As a reminder, everything I write here is my own opinion and not that of any organization with whom I might be affiliated. Thanks for stopping by.