When dusk settles in on the evening of July 4th and you’re in that wonderful anticipating lull before the fireworks start, take a minute and remember what people across the U.S. are actually celebrating.
But you could also call it Interdependence Day.
Because who are we as a nation if we didn’t depend on firefighters who step into burning buildings to save lives?
And police officers who come to the firefighters’ homes if anything is amiss?
And teachers who educate the children of firefighters and police officers?
Of course, teachers, firefighters and police officers count on doctors to help them when they’re sick.
And doctors couldn’t do their work without nurses and techs and paperwork people.
Can we agree that we need grocery store cashiers and even the high school kids who stock the shelves?
What about the men and women who fill the potholes, and the engineers who make sure bridges are safe?
Then there are the craftsmen who make furniture for our houses.
And for them, power company executives who make decisions which guarantee that the craftsmen will have the energy they need to run the lathes.
And, believe it or not, we have honest, dependable, smart people making sound public policy decisions which allow the power company to do its job.
Sometimes these people are called “politicians” or “civil servants” – much maligned, certainly, but I know many of them… and the best share a deep, profound commitment to our country.
There are others, too, with a deep appreciation of our country. Who are we as a nation if we didn’t depend on the men and women who choose to serve in harm’s way as airmen, sailors, soldiers and Marines?
They choose to serve. And many of them give the last full measure of devotion so we can live free.
Kind of like the founders of our nation.
Yes, it’s important to be yourself, and focused on your own life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.
But Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin knew about interdependence. I imagine it was on his mind when Franklin said at the signing of the Declaration of Independence:
“We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.”
You know, I’ve read that the ultimate expression of spiritual enlightenment is the realization that every individual on the planet is connected to every other individual on the planet. That we are independent individuals yet interdependent people.
You know that’s true. See, we all live it every day in a million ways, even if we’re not conscious of it. We depend on teachers and soldiers and cops and firefighters and doctors and engineers and politicians and civil servants and executives and craftsmen and millions of other people in our daily lives. And they, in turn, depend on us in some way.
We are all connected.
On July 4th, by the light of the rockets’ red glare, let’s remember that truth, shall we? And let’s truly celebrate what it means to be free.
[photo credit: Michele Woodward]