The Irony of Independence

Every July 4th, the United States celebrates "Independence Day". It is your typical celebration whereby we remember the foundational values of the country and the things that bring us together. There is also a good amount of pie baking, meat consumed, and paper blown up. Perhaps one of the most "Merica" stories shared this week was the bald eagle (now named Freedom) that was ensnared by a tree limb but was freed when a U.S. military veteran used 150 rounds to shoot down the tree limb and liberate the eagle.

Of the values celebrated on the 4th is the value of independence. This value is cherished when we applaud any myth of a person who pulled themselves up by their bootstraps, applauded when the loan leader goes ahead, encouraged when the entrepreneur starts their business, and is used as the proxy for failed parenting if your child is not able to be independent. Independence is so valued and idolized that it fuels the myth of meritocracy which is perhaps the creation myth of America. 

The irony is that INDEpendence is built upon a foundation of INTERdependence. It is not possible for one person to be independent without the very real interdependence of creation. Independent businesses built from the ground up are interdependent on the infrastructure of roads and power grids. Even those who live off the grid and are even more independent from the world become even more interdependent on the ebbs and flows of the seasons, weather and nature. 

We like to think we are independent and in many ways we are. However, lest we forget that the very reality that anyone can be independent is because of a true and full understanding of the interdependence we all have with one another. 

This is the tragedy of much of the talk about nations taking their "county back." The desire to take a country back, as it is currently expressed, is by building walls and cutting connections. These isolationist movements on the surface look like movements toward independence but because they undercut the interdependence we share it keeps independence a pipe dream.

True independence is like that of a soccer game. There are rules and boundaries, there is an interdependence on the officials, teammates and opponents. The more one understands this interdependence the more one is able to express beauty and freedom. Isolationist behavior in soccer leads to anarchy on the field where the game of soccer is unrecognizable. Isolationism in the world affairs leads to anarchy where there is no trust of another and the culture no longer flourishes (see the Dark Ages of Europe).