July 4th in the U.S.A is about baseball and Bruce Springsteen, the red glare of fireworks in the night time sky, and frankfurters on the grill (Beyond Meat, of course). On this “independence” day we realize that in truth, citizens of the globe are not separate but interwoven, not isolated but mixed, not divided but united. Two hundred and fifty years ago, the Founding Fathers (read too, Mothers, Sisters, Sons, and Lovers) valued independence, self reliance and autonomy. However today, the assertion of independence is absurd. In somatic terms, it would be like the liver saying to the spleen, stomach and small intestine “Hey, I’m going to claim independence over here ”. Not only would this be ridiculous, it would lead to certain death. Today, we should celebrate not that we live in isolation but that we are connected. We should rename this day Interdependence Day. The prefix inter means between, and appears in words like interesting, international and– what you are likely on right now– the internet. Today, we should celebrate our in-betweenness and inter (i.e bury 6 feet under) the assumption that we are autonomous and self-sustaining and can go-it-alone to survive. When it comes to containing the spread of the Corona Virus, the proliferation of carbon in the atmosphere, and monitoring content on the w.w.w., we must collaborate with other nations beyond our borders. That we are interdependent, interwoven and indivisible is one of the earliest teachings of the Buddha, known as pratityasamutpada, or “going forth together”. If we are to preserve our planet, we must “go forth together” and realize what Thich Nhat Hanh called inter-being. When in service of the whole, we take a vow to realize “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” (as espoused in the Declaration of Independence of 1775) not just for ourselves but for all beings. While honoring our nation’s uniqueness and richness, let’s celebrate the fact that we are all interwoven.
Happy Interdependence Day!