The Fourth of July commemorates the day the thirteen colonies in the “New World” declared independence from the United Kingdom of Great Britain. What is independence? How does it inform our culture and minds? Are we in-dependent or inter-dependent beings…or perhaps both? And might there be merit in also acknowledging and commemorating on this day (or another) our inter-dependence with all life forms and Earth?
Independence vs. Interdependence
Independence is the freedom of one entity to operate without the control or coercion of another. Independence is achieved by standing up for oneself and defending one’s own agency. A feeling of self-sufficiency can also increase independence as in the case of a child no longer needing or being dependent upon a parent or guardian.
Inter-dependence occurs when two or more entities are mutually reliant upon one another. Inter-dependence is a fact of the natural world of which we humans play an integral role. Nature is inherently one grand, profoundly inter-dependent organism/system.
As an inter-connected organism, we rely on and need one another. We are on the same “team,” and feel invested in our team’s successes, failures, and challenges. For the team’s success is our success, and the team’s challenge is our challenge.
We instinctively reach out to help teammates. At times assistance may involve applying painful medicine; but with an understanding of our inter-dependence, even this is done with loving care. We want our team – ourselves – to heal, live, and thrive.
Our civilization comprises separate entities: individuals, the military, government, or human society, each acting upon and often controlling one or more other entity. History can be seen as a dualistic dance of hierarchy between superior and underling where the underling (dependent one) experiences a loss of agency and may eventually seek independence. In some instances, this results in conflict or war.
If we view others as discreet entities separate from ourselves, often competing for limited resources and love, there is a greater likelihood for underlying and unavoidable strife – For one person’s abundance may be perceived as dependent on the scarcity of another. The prevalence of this way of perceiving and operating in the world results in a top-down paradigm where the one on top envisions and dictates policies and customs for themselves and those they deem, and/or who are in fact, dependent on them.
If we sense our inter-dependence and inherent oneness, what follows naturally is respect and care for all living beings and Earth herself. For wherefore goes another, therefor go I. We pivot from a place of viewing ourselves and others as separate beings either controlling or being controlled by another, to inter-dependence where we understand and feel that we, all living beings, the Earth and Heavens are one inter-connected, inter-reliant Being.
Residing solely in the independency/dependency model of the world, if left unchecked, can lead to societal actions that may bring us to the edge of extinction – E.g. Nuclear war, the 5G/satellite/IoT/AI/systems warfare juggernaut, or Climate Change.
But if we reside solely in the world of inter-dependence, and do not acknowledge our instinctual feeling of perceived individuated identity, we risk not being able to function practically in the world where we need at least a modicum of “self” to seek food, shelter and meaning.
Ideally, the “I-am-a-separate-entity” and the “connected-with-all-life” world views, can work together synergistically, each offering its own gift, together or at times alternately, to our perception, understanding, and navigation of the world.
Our sense of Inter-dependence is being uprooted
At this point in time, our sense of inter-dependence is being uprooted. The metaphorical “umbilical cord” that connects us to Mother Earth has been severed. We are increasingly being corralled into cyber space and becoming more and more dependent on technology to meet our basic needs, be they for sustenance, news, entertainment, sense of belonging, or friendship. Our growing dis-connect from one another and from Earth have become ever more pronounced by covid lockdowns, masking, social distancing, and yet greater reliance on digital text and sound “bytes”.
Over-whelmed by “info-pollution” – I.e., the sheer quantity of information and communications that inundate us daily – these have become “cheap” and less substantive. In much the same way we are still hungry after a full meal of fast foods that provide empty calories but little to no nutritive value, information we imbibe from our screened-in, info-polluted way of life leaves us hungry for meaningful and real-world interpersonal connection.
Moreover, the communications themselves have veered into disinformation and censorship. “Facts” are often unverifiable. We can no longer rely on language to be the “bridge” that connects us to one another. Not unlike the story of the Tower of Babel – the iconic Biblical symbol of disconnection of one person from another – we no longer speak the same language. I.e., language no longer serves reliably as the connective fabric that holds us together when abiding in the individuated identity mindset.
The world seeks to self-correct
Although, as a species, we are out of balance now and wreaking havoc on all life, the world (like all living beings) seeks to self-correct…to heal, and another shift is taking place simultaneously. More and more people are awakening to an understanding of our inherent oneness and to a deep care for Mother Earth. Many are choosing to flee urban areas to live on the land and connect with friends and community at the local level – Person to person, face-to-face, and heart-to-heart.
Should we turn the clocks back…go back in time? Or could the dissolution of genuine communication be labor pains birthing a new way of apprehending reality that by-passes language? Could it be heralding a time when we are (once again) intensely aware of our connection to all life, and no longer solely reliant on the “crutch” of language, information, and facts? A time when we “get” things intuitively, deeply, thoughtfully, and feeling fully…but this time, with the addition of something new.
What’s different now?
The 21st century world offers unique possibilities that were not available in earlier times. We have a new tool now, the internet, that allows us to know what’s going on in distant parts of the world. Indeed, even though the internet grew out of, and is an integral part of the “I-am-a-separate-entity” world view, if used well, it can underscore, and even enhance society’s understanding of our inter-connectedness.
Empathy is aroused when we “see” via the internet, victims of war or famine, child slavery, the cruelty of factory farms, or polar bears dying from starvation caused by habitat loss. The internet also can help us share creative and practical solutions to address problems we all face. We can communicate globally, amplify messages, build coalitions, and send aid where needed. The internet and telecommunications help us work together as one, for the good of all…If we so choose.
We need both ways of perceiving and being in the world
What seems to be arising now is a restoring of balance and a merging of both ways of apprehending the world – the “I-am-a-separate-entity” and the “connected-with-all-life” viewpoints. As we hold them together in our mind and heart, or perhaps pulse from one to the other, we can begin to dissolve thick demarcation lines of the us/them paradigm and envision other possibilities and solutions.
We need not go back to the way things were before our centuries-long escapade into duality. Collectively, as a society, we are shedding the skin of our old way of perceiving the world, and a new layer is forming beneath. The new model will likely rely more on intuition, but not entirely. For we can now benefit from possibilities the internet and other innovations provide. Language will likely remain, but our intuition will guide us toward more truth-filled communications.
If we soften into the inter-dependent view of the world by trusting our intuition and tuning into our place in the natural world, we can discover what we are being called to do, both as unique individuals and as a society. Then with the aid of some of the tools of our 21st century work-a-day world of individuated identities, we can set about bringing our vision into the world.
How will the union of paradigms inform our advocacy?
Holding both orientations in our minds and hearts simultaneously will inform how we approach advocacy, be it for safe technology, nuclear disarmament, the wise use of space or any other changes we wish to bring about. The way each of us will show up in the world is an unknown, but our advocacy will flow from a balanced and renewed way of seeing things. Whatever form it takes, likely, our communications will be clearer, less polarizing, and more effective, especially when speaking to those whose actions we feel need correcting. For messages delivered from the heart can more easily dissolve barriers and influence mindsets and actions.
May the visions for a more viable future that arise from a deep understanding of our inter-dependence, be escorted into the world by the global “team” with whom we are inseparably One…while still honoring and holding space for light touch individuation in ourselves and others.
By Kate Kheel
From the team of Stop 5G International