Happy July 5th – Inter-Dependence Day!
Happy Inter-dependence Day!
I hope you had a great 4th of July weekend.
When I think about Independence Day in America today I am filled with mixed emotions. I love America and I still believe it is the greatest country in the world. There are plenty of places in the world today where a person cannot create their own history, express their opinions or practice their beliefs without fear of oppression by their government.
Yet more and more I see our country divided, our institutions degraded, and our moral compass clouded.
We celebrate Independence Day because we fought to separate ourselves from the oppressive rule of our colonial masters in England. We sought to create something new that would free us from the bonds and limitations of the old world. But we also brought into our new experiment African slavery, genocide of the native peoples on this continent, and a long history of keeping women and minorities in subservience.
So our real history is built on blood and bondage plus hope and vision. Quite an interesting combination of elements.
No wonder that today we are such a fragmented nation with so many people unwilling to come to terms with our actual history. Others yearn for a world that existed only for a few while many were unfairly exploited to make that idyllic world possible.
So how can we begin to heal these deep wounds, divisions, and fissures?
I’ve come to realize that the Buddhist concept of the interdependence of all living beings may provide some hope.
According to this concept, all of us are dependent on each other. None of us can exist without the help or support of someone else.
This is pretty obvious since we could not have entered this world without the “help” of our mothers. Likely contributing to our safe entry into this world were the staff in the hospitals where most of us were born. Then came the teachers, the employers, the spouses and partners, and so on.
But looking deeper we can see that our lives are supported by hundreds, even thousands of people that we will never meet. The farmers, the truck drivers, the industrial and warehouse workers, the utility folks who bring us electricity, water, gas. The people who maintain our streets and highways, traffic signals, and railroads. Then there are the ever present delivery folks from Amazon, FedEx, UPS and how about those USPS mail carriers all of whom bring us the products we’ve ordered that were made by all those other folks.
Have you ever wondered about the people who make the clothes you wear? The shoes, the makeup, the furniture you are sitting on, the computer on which you’re reading this post?
Across the nation and the world are men and women who have devoted their lives to protecting us – from the police directing traffic in our towns to the soldiers in far flung and dangerous places risking their lives to keep us safe.
If you get sick, as many people did during the pandemic, you may have found yourself in a doctor’s office or even a hospital surrounded by people in heavy protective gear doing their best to help you survive and recover.
I’ve come to realize that my daily life depends on lots and lots of people I will never meet. And many of them hold political, religious or philosophical views different or even opposed to my own.
On this day, July 5th, I want to recognize and respect all of them for the service they are providing. Whether I agree with them or not they are contributing to my life. I propose we use the 5th day of July to celebrate the interdependence that makes life possible in America and our world.
When I take the time to consider how fortunate I am to be living in America today, I know that this is only possible due to the sacrifices of those who came before me and the continuing, daily unsung efforts of those upon whom my life relies.
No man (or woman) is an island. We all live or perish as part of an incredibly complex web of interconnection.
Recognizing and celebrating this makes us a stronger nation and a more compassionate people.
Happy Interdependence Day!