Although this is a topic that I’m often reminded of as it relates to America’s 4th of July celebrations, it’s quickly becoming a much bigger part of my life. Here is an uncomfortable, but hopefully eye opening look at the celebrations of our independence, as a nation…and as individuals.
As I grow, my thoughts and beliefs periodically waver as I’m exposed to new information and consider alternate perspectives to my own. I think that’s probably pretty normal. We live. We learn. We grow. At least that’s how it’s supposed to be. My feelings about independence? Not so much. My thoughts on this evolving nation seem to be stuck, and they go something like this:
Each year my ponderings of the 4th of July and my thoughts of the coming new year reset. Traditionally, the celebrations of the 4th typically consist of a gathering of our closest friends and family, good food, sunshine, swimming, and BBQ, all capped off with watching fireworks! On New Years Eve, it’s often much of the same, only colder in the northern hemisphere. These are all things that I treasure. Our forefathers (and foremothers) had unimaginable courage and dreams that are clearly worth celebrating. There’s something heartwarming and memorable about these get-togethers. They give us a time to pause, to reflect, to reboot, on particularly on New Year’s Ever…to set our intensions.
That said, especially when it comes to traditions, the questioning of “Why do we do this?” always undermines my mental monologue. So, other than for the fun of it, what’s it all really about, and how is our “independence” really serving us?
We all start our lives completely dependent. Our nation started like that too. However, as human beings, we learn and grow, eventually reaching physical, financial, mental, and emotional independence. At least in most cases, we can do things on our own. We no longer need the support of our parents and caregivers in order to survive. Ignoring the arbitrary age of 18 which signifies ‘Adulthood’ in the US, people typically become independent sometime between the ages of 16 and 23. The US became independent nearly 250 years ago; July 4th, 1776.
Each year, on the 4th, we raise our flags in our yards, we wear our red, white, and blue, and we carry on with our celebrations. New Year’s Eve feels very much the same, again, only colder…and at night. But year after year I keep wondering, isn’t there another step to our evolution? Individually, isn’t independence just another step on our path to interdependence; working together? Don’t we need each other in order to truly thrive? Aren’t we, as a society; as a nation, as people…“Better together?”
If dependency comes first, and independence second, doesn’t interdependence come next? We’re born dependent, work hard to become independent, then bring our strengths and wisdom and love for each other together, and truly work hand-in-hand, heart-in-heart to achieve unimaginable goals? Aren’t our ultimate individual and collective utilities optimized when we work together?
There’s often a bit, OK…always a bit of ego in independence. In fact, I think ego is a necessary part of us, as individuals, saying, “I’m OK. I can do this now, on my own.” And that’s really important milestone to reach. But it’s really only a temporary shelter, it’s sort of a base camp before our final push to the summit, a push toward true peace and oneness.
I’ve only just realized this recently in my own life: Accepting that feeling of “need.” I now actually appreciate that need. It doesn’t sound strong to say, “I need…” but I’m learning that it absolutely necessary in order to grow, and I think that’s the point. I appreciate that I very literally need the company of others, I need to give my trust to others and be willing to honor the trust of others, and not only to give love but to grow to a place of emotional and mental health that will allow myself to actually receive that same level of love. As ever, it’s a work in progress, but it’s beautiful. It’s like standing on the summit.
I’d love to see the US, each of us and all of us, start to show more maturity, more wisdom, more openness, more social development, more love…and more interdependence. I’m starting to see glimpses of a shift in mindset from the younger generations. I’m grateful for that. Maybe from the shadows, will come true interdependence, and only through that…peace.
Wasn’t it Lennon who said, “Imagine…”.
Yes, please! Let’s keep celebrating our Independence on the 4th of July, and let’s look ring in our new years, but let’s continue growing too. Let’s celebrate this incredible, empowering, world-changing milestone as another step toward peace. But we mustn’t rest on our laurels. There’s no need (and with today’s circumstances, no time) to stop and rest. We’ve still got work to do.
Today, from the bottom of my heart, I wish you all of the joys that come with interdependence. It is with the hope that the coming years add another holiday to the calendar…with more swimming, more sunshine, more BBQ, more baseball, and maybe we’ll hold off on the fireworks. Maybe we’ll call that day…”Interdependence Day.” And hey…lets make that holiday last a week.
“I hope some day you’ll join us, and the world will be as one.”