Let’s celebrate interdependence on July 4

—John Cameron on Unsplash

When will Americans grow up and move on from their adolescent celebration of independence to embrace interdependence? Every Fourth of July, we celebrate our independence from England. America’s values of independence can also be seen in our partisan politics of guns, lower taxes, fewer regulations, white superiority/racism and our rugged individualism.

Will we ever have a holiday that celebrates our interdependence — our role as citizens to care for each other, our role as a nation to have just relationships with other countries that support peace and justice? Medicare, Social Security and our highway system are examples of our country’s domestic interdependence. Working together with the global community to solve problems like the climate crisis requires an interdependent mindset.

Our journey to becoming mature adults starts with us as infants being dependent on our parents, then becoming independent as teenagers and then eventually being interdependent.  The goal to full maturity is interdependence: valuing the importance of relationships that mutually benefit all parties. This requires interpersonal skills such as empathetic listening and understanding to persons with differing beliefs and values and seeking innovative, win-win solutions. Our nation needs a paradigm shift so that we can work more effectively together across party lines and divisions. Knowing your own vision, and seeking to understand the vision of others, will lead to common ground.

While the Bible does not use the term “interdependence,” there is a lot said about this concept. God is not individual but triune: God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. God works through us, the Body of Christ, to care for each other (1 Corinthians 12:27). Paul in Philippians 2:4-5 says, “Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus.” Jesus listened to the Canaanite woman  and came up with a “win-win” solution and healed her daughter (Matthew 15:21-25).

As we seek to follow Jesus, we face many controversial societal issues: racism, rise of Christian nationalism, persecution against LGBTQ+ and climate change, to name a few. How do we address these? When we are open to the Holy Spirit and listen to others with differing perspectives, God leads us to new life-giving solutions. I have felt I’m on holy ground when I listen to someone who has a different viewpoint. God has used these moments to change my opinions on reparations, climate change and gender issues.

Unfortunately, our nation has failed to address our problems because our citizens, politicians and media are still living in an independence paradigm.  Our churches can lead the nation in shifting to and becoming interdependent.  So, this Fourth of July, let’s begin celebrating interdependence and work together across the boundaries that separate us to solve our nation’s problems.

John Williamson

John Williamson is a member of Pilgrims Mennonite Church in Akron, Pa.

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