July 4th. Independence Day.
True freedom is found not in independence, but mutual interdependence. Independence says, “I don’t need anyone else.” Interdependence says, “we need each other.”
Let’s celebrate Interdependence Day!
We call this day “Independence Day”, but that is really a misnomer. While we may have been claiming our political freedom and independence from Britain, we have never truly been independent from them, or any number of other nations and people groups. This “freedom” would not have been possible without significant aid from the French. Treaties are a formal way that as a nation we say, “We need to cooperate and work together to accomplish our common goals, and this also helps us advance our own particular aspirations.” Where is the independence in this? The very popular phrase: “Freedom isn’t free” illustrates this point. My freedom and yours, our “independence” depends upon the contributions made by others, thus demonstrating it to not be independence at all. (You might also check out this on HuffPost.)
The myth of independence has long been a part of the “American ethos”, often with quite destructive results. We have never accomplished any great feat, or overcome any obstacle, without collaborative alliances and partnerships. Why then do we persist in our illusion that we are independent? And if as a nation we are “independent”, how much more do we as individuals, families and communities struggle because of our acceptance of this falsehood. What individual ever accomplished anything without the aid of others? No one. From the nurture and support we receive in childhood, to those who educate us, to the resources and advantages provided in our communities by public and private entities, we are surrounded by sources of support upon which we depend for our very survival, not to mention our ability to thrive and have a vital life.
So perhaps today, as we celebrate what is truly great about this country, we might also pause to give thanks to all those who helped along the way. We might also consider the places where we have failed, and in the process hurt others and ourselves, even to future generations. Consider the inebriated person who leaves the bar, insisting that she is OK to drive, refusing help from a friend or a cab. I suggest that we often are drunk on our own ego, thinking that we can get along without the help of others – lying to ourselves, and potentially doing great damage.
Today, I’m choosing to celebrate Interdependence Day. Perhaps I’ll even make it a theme for my life and work over this next year. I’ll ask myself, “Upon whom will I, can I, depend today? And who is depending on me? Who’s contributions have enabled me to get to where I am? Where are my Interdependent Connections?” I suspect this shift in perspective can have a dramatic effect on how I view and live in the world and relate to others. I’d love for you to also make the journey and join the conversation with me.