Happy Interdependence Day!
July 1st, 2021
I am always a bit ambivalent about the Fourth of July holiday. This nation was founded on blood and born in war. Not just the blood of the Revolutionary War, but on the blood of the indigenous people who had coexisted in this land long before we came to “civilize” them, and, of course the blood and bodies and souls of an enslaved people. Though Thomas Jefferson wrote in our founding document that “all men are created equal,” nowhere in American history are women, people of color, “foreigners”, or poor people designated as equal to those white, wealthy, old founding fathers.
The fireworks that have come to symbolize Independence Day are simulated warfare—“bombs bursting in air”.
At this point in my life I do not celebrate war, but peace and harmony. Neither do I see “America First” as anything other than the narcissistic mantra it is. Any kind of national exceptionalism seems to me counter-productive to global cohesion and collaboration.
I DO believe in the right of every person to live as independently as their circumstances allow. One of the core values of UCOM is respect. An integral part of respect is championing people’s independence from poverty, homelessness, hunger, insecurity, tyranny, bullying, fear, paternalism, condescension, and harsh judgment. I am determined that everything we do at UCOM helps people to achieve more and more independence. For every emergency need we provide I expect that we offer some options people can use to sustain themselves and their families.
As we have lived in the midst of this pandemic that has taken 600,000 American lives and is still not done, we have heard the arguments of personal freedom opposing the common good and safety for all. Anti-maskers have morphed into anti-vaxers. People who refused to wear a mask over mouth and nose to protect themselves and others from this virus repeatedly issued the argument that this infringed on their freedom. Anti-vaxers often put forth the same argument. You can’t make me get vaccinated. That would infringe on my right. That is the downside of independence. Only I matter. I am not responsible for anyone else. “Am I my brother’s [or other sibling’s] keeper?”
My response is, “Yes, I am responsible for how my actions affect every other creature on the planet.”
For that reason, I have for many years celebrated Interdependence Day on the Fourth of July. The strength of this or any nation is revealed by how we relate to those with less power and privilege than we, and what we do to achieve equality.
What do you celebrate at this time of year? How do you see your role in the world and specifically in this “land of the free and home of the brave”?