While independence is a very difficult and important developmental stage -- a dramatic step up from dependence, as anyone who has teens and two-year-olds will tell you -- it is not the ultimate goal of maturity.
As we mature, life encourages us to bring the healthy individuality (which we developed through our independence) into relationships and networks which involve a lot of healthy interdependence. People use words like mutuality, community and synergy to describe this good kind of interdependence.
Nature is a great model of interdependence. Today you, like me, are breathing hundreds of gallons of invisible oxygen, a gift from our plant kin, to whom we return hundreds of gallons of that stuffy carbon dioxide that they love so much (thank heavens for diversity!). Meanwhile the flowers are gifting nectar to the bees, who return the favor by pollinating the flowers.
And we have to face it: While rabbits are staving off foxly hunger, the foxes are keeping the rabbits from overgrazing their bioregion so that their species can continue to thrive. It all fits, one way or another, in dense webs of interdependence.
But interdependence is social, as well. As technology, cheap oil, and population growth bring us all to each other's doorsteps, and as the globalization of economic, political and ecological factors (and occasional disasters) have woven our destinies ever-more-tightly together, more people are waking up to the fact that we are interdependent whether we like it or not..
When Chernobyl melted down on April 16, 1986, and New York's Twin Towers crashed a thunderous hole in our security on September 11, 2001, we got glimpses of the dark side of our interdependence. And every day, from our front-row mass media seats, we watch global warming, terrorism, SARS, and the deaths of oceans and war-torn children unfold.
It seems that the world is trying to tell us something. Perhaps it hopes that demonstrating our INTRINSIC interdependence will stimulate us to CONSCIOUSLY CO-CREATE POSITIVE FORMS OF INTERDEPENDENCE -- mutuality, community, synergy and co-intelligence.
* * *
INTERDEPENDENCE DAYS AND DECLARATIONS
Interdependence Days and Declarations of Interdependence give us ways to remind ourselves and each other just how important interdependence is.
Since there have apparently been no official national Interdependence Days or Declarations of Interdependence, grassroots creativity has moved in to fill this need. Websurfing this subject produced hundreds of pages. Each one focused on a different aspect of interdependence -- humanitarian, ecological, spiritual, economic... In fact, one of the most intriguing things about this almost invisible movement is that local regions, counties, communities, school systems, and others have apparently been writing up their own Declarations of Interdependence whenever they wanted to, for their own purposes.
Interesting idea, isn't it? We could all do it.
You can find the results of my research on http://www.co-intelligence.org/interdependenceday.html . If I find more, I'll post a note there. Here's what I've found so far.
It seems the first major Declaration of Interdependence was proposed by historian Will Durant on April 8, 1944. He, Meyer David and Dr. Christian Richard wrote it -- you can read it at http://www.willdurant.com/interdependence.htm -- and launched a movement around it on March 22, 1945. This basically humanitarian document about tolerance and respect was introduced into the Congressional Record on October 1, 1945. It was a nice beginning -- but only a beginning.
Historian Henry Steele Commager seems to have instigated the next major Declaration of Interdependence in 1975 http://www.wfa.org/resources/readings/wrldaff.html . He was concerned about a variety of global threats and suggested that a global government was needed to address them all -- a view shared by many others, notably Albert Einstein.
While it seems historians are the ones who started this movement, the torch was soon picked up by the twin forces of global capitalism on the one hand and global environmentalism and civil society on the other.
Somewhere along the line Commager's version was adopted by the Global Interdependence Center run by elite global financial institutions http://www.interdependence.org/about.html in their efforts to further their vision of a new world order -- a vision that has been intensely critiqued by numerous factions on both the Left and the Right.
In 1992 an ecologically-oriented Declaration of Interdependence was written by five members of the David Suzuki Foundation for the United Nations' Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro http://www.davidsuzuki.org/About_us/Declaration_of_Interdependence.asp . And recently a democracy-oriented version http://www.civworld.org/declaration.cfm was written for the CivWorld global Citizens Campaign for Democracy, a project of Benjamin Barber's Democracy Collaborative.
Meanwhile, as I said, many others have been formulating their
own declarations of interdependence. For example New York, New
Jersey and Connecticut crafted one to further their cooperation
in regional development http://www.rpa.org/region_at_risk/declaration.html
and Bloomington and Monroe Counties in Indiana came up with one
to express their shared commitment to children and education http://www.bloomington.in.us/hoosiernet/CALL/interdependence.html
. I find this a fascinating approach to organize a community or
And what of Interdependence DAY?
Interestingly, in spite of many individual and local assertions of July 4th (give or take a few days) as Interdependence Day -- see, for example, http://oii.org/html/independence_day.html , http://www.spiritualityhealth.com/newsh/items/blank/item_4458.html and http://www.uua.org/clf/members/connections/Summer/interdependence.htm -- the major efforts to organize a widely-recognized Interdependence Day have been inspired the 9-11 attacks. The collapsing Twin Towers highlighted the USA's interdependence with the rest of the world.
So the nonprofit "We, The World" organization called together peace and environmental groups to build mass public involvement in Interdependence Day as a new global tradition starting September 1, 2002 (see http://www.souledout.org/festivals/globalmeditations/interdependenceday.html ). They proposed this as the first special day of "Culture of Peace Month" which includes September 11th and September 21st, the International Day of Peace designated by the UN. Their effort was endorsed by alternative luminaries like Dr. Jane Goodall, Daniel Ellsberg, Dr. Riane Eisler, Hazel Henderson, Thom Hartmann, Dr. Ervin Laszlo, and Paul Ray.
Benjamin Barber's CivWorld -- who created one of the Declarations of Interdependence, above -- have scheduled their Interdependence Day memorial for September, as well. They figure we woke up to our interdependence the day after 9-11, which suggests September 12 as a good time to celebrate Interdependence Day. They plan a major kick-off this year in Philadelphia, home of the original U.S. Declaration of Independence. See http://www.interdependenceday2003.org/day.htm .
As far as I'm concerned, we could use the months of July, August AND September -- or at least the period from July 4th to September 12th -- as a "Season of Interdependence," with different cities, countries, organizations, groups, individuals, etc., putting on their own Interdependence Days, and linking to each other to share approaches and experiences. If anyone would like to operate a clearinghouse for such information, buy up an appropriate domain name, set up a website and/or start a listserv and let me know. I'll announce it to this list.
* * *
NURTURING ACTIVE INTERDEPENDENCE
So these are ways we can observe -- in all meanings of that word -- our interdependence.
But let us not stop there, just observing. Let us move from observing to co-creating interdependence. Let us familiarize ourselves and each other with active forms of interdependence -- paths, tools and guidelines that can help us co-create more just, wise and sustainable cultures.
Anything which evokes or facilitates our co-creativity, our healthy collective self-organization, is an empowering form of interdependence.
Interdependence can look like dialogues* where we all learn from each other, weaving our lives, stories and hearts together and discovering new understandings and possibilities we could never have found alone. We can experience a near-magical interdependence through good dialogue in our relationships, in our groups and organizations, in our neighborhoods and communities, and in our conversations over great distances and times -- through telecommunications, scholarship, art and imagination -- into the heart of the past, into the heart of the future, into the heart of the Other....
Interdependence can look like democratic feedback systems -- fair and open elections, citizen deliberative councils,* public dialogue,* governmental checks and balances,* freedom of information, association, and speech -- through which public officials and citizens empower, monitor and depend on each other for creating a democracy that works for all.
Interdependence can look like co-creative partnership with nature -- like permaculture,* bioregionalism,* green city planning and architecture, sustainable energy, local economics,* and even statistics that measure real quality of life.*
Interdependence -- if we wake up and live it -- looks like all life working together to enhance all life.
So my Declaration of Interdependence would go something like this:
We hold this truth to be self-evident:
We are All.
Therefore we live this truth
in our lives, communities and societies,
and thrive together into a long future
that we create together.
We are the world
that is awakening
to both the fact and the opportunity
of our interdependence --
fully, finally and beyond a shadow of doubt.
We are the world
who are making
ourselves a good world
that works for all people and all life.
Because we know the Greatest Secret
"We are All
* You can read more about these marked subjects on the Co-Intelligence Institute's website and/or in THE TAO OF DEMOCRACY (ToD)
dialogue - ToD Chapter 7 and http://www.co-intelligence.org/P-dialogue.html
citizen deliberative councils - ToD Chapter 14 and http://www.co-intelligence.org/P-CDCs.html
public dialogue - ToD Chapter 17 and http://www.co-intelligence.org/CIPol_ComunityProcesses.html
governmental checks and balances - http://www.co-intelligence.org/CIPol_democSocPwrAnal.html
permaculture - ToD pp.96-99 and http://www.co-intelligence.org/P-permaculture.html
bioregionalism - http://www.co-intelligence.org/P-bioregionalism.html
local economics - the links on http://www.co-intelligence.org/P-sustainability.html especially http://www.newrules.org/
statistics that measure real quality of life - ToD pp. 16-18, 89-92 and http://www.co-intelligence.org/P-qualtylifeindicators.html