4th of July! Independence Day- a worthy day to celebrate our quest for liberty, justice and equality. And those qualities are certainly worth pursuing. Let us continue to do so as individuals and as groups and countries and in the world and for all beings.
As we know in the field of couple’s therapy, any couple might find themselves enmeshed- too close or distancing- overly differentiated. Either side, gone too far is a problem. So, too, I believe, with nations, with all people, all groups. Are we simply members of our own family or tribe? Citizens of the U.S. or any other country? Or are we part of a larger human group? Global citizens? And if we expand our identification far enough to feel connected to all people, then we must, naturally, find ourselves connected to all life!
It’s not enough to celebrate our independence. We must celebrate our interdependence! The air I breathe is the same air you breathe. My life depends on other life forms. If any country suffers or falls, each one us stumbles a bit too.
I want to practice interdependence. Walking in the 4th of July parade with my grandchildren, they choose costumes representing animals with signs “Love the animals”. Other youngsters are draped in red, white and blue. Hurray. There is room for both. There is a need for both.
Somewhere, deep inside, we know that we are one humanity, one planet. We can’t look at another’s suffering without feeling a tinge of it in ourselves. This is a good thing. This is compassion. This is our shared humanity. And as we share our humanity, we share our divinity. No matter what religion or path we are on, we touch the same truths when we touch our own divinity. When we live in our deepest humanness and our clearest divinity, we live as part of a larger community.
So interdependence days are upon us! They don’t have to be celebrated on one particular day. Celebrate them everyday- in big ways and small. Hold a hand! Send a letter. Say thank you to someone you know. Give thanks to those you don’t know for all the hidden ways others help us. Offer help. Be kind to yourself and others. Relish the air you breathe and the water you drink and the food you eat. And, if you happen to have the opportunity, enjoy the parades!
You are me, and I am you.
Isn't it obvious that we "inter-are"?
You cultivate the flower in yourself,
so that I will be beautiful.
I transform the garbage in myself,
so that you will not have to suffer.
I support you;
you support me.
I am in this world to offer you peace;
you are in this world to bring me joy.
from Call Me by My True Names: The Collected Poems of Thich Nhat Hanh, by Thich Nhat Hanh 1989