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Happy Interdependence Day

….INTER-dependence Day – my new name for the 4th of July in the U.S.

Interdependence in the Natural World

Why not declare your INTER-dependence today?

What can we learn from the soil and the forests about interdependence. And what does this have to do with the following story and my reflections on human interdependence? You’ll have to read to the end to find the answer……:)

I had a conversation with a client not too long ago about independence vs. dependence in relationships. This woman was fiercely independent and passionately clear on the issues. Dependent on others? Never! I can relate.

What seemed to be missing, tho’, was true intimacy in her relationships. That is a meaningful, equal exchange of thoughts and feelings. A place where she could be vulnerable and truly heard while being open to listening to someone else’s perspective and emotional needs. She admitted that she has some regrets about this disconnection.

And yet her life was pretty good by all reports. So maybe choosing that route of independence wasn’t a bad choice. OR could she avoiding that vulnerability that comes when you choose to be in an intimate relationship; that pesky requirement to compromise, to be honest, to listen? Perhaps she believes she’d have to give away too much power and freedom? Be dependent on another and lose her self along the way?

Oh, my. Busted! I just realized that I’m talking about myself here. Guess that’s why her story rang so true.

This got me thinking about what we choose. Are these the only options – “independence at all costs” or “I must defer and be dependent to be loved my xxxx”?

That’s why I’m celebrating Interdependence Day today. Here’s why. Warning, my musings are meant to stimulate conversation and are surely oversimplified. My aim is to capture a bit of what I think is true in intimate relationships and in the larger world. And why our survival as a species and the planet relies on interdependence-balancing independence and dependence.

Let’s start with intimate relationships ….. from a female’s perspective:

  • Many of us, women in particular, find ourselves in relationships that are not partnerships. We give power away. We overly accommodate. OR we emasculate our men. I’m speaking about heterosexual relationships. I’d be grateful to hear thoughts from those of you who are in the LGBTQ plus community. Perhaps there are similar dynamics. I think the #METOO movement has uncovered so much of the power dynamic in relationships. Now let’s hope for deepening respect that comes with healthy interdependence.
  • As mothers, it seems that we enable our male children by treating them like little gods, entitled. Think about your children or those of your friends. Are the daughters treated differently? Is there a healthy interdependence in this dynamic or co-dependence?
  • This next subject is complicated. It appears that when a woman gets divorced or becomes a widow, the desire to remarry is significantly lower – Pew Research says 66% of men desire to remarry or do remarry vs. less than 50% of women. This is true even if it means less financial security for the woman. Why? A topic worth discussing in one of your book groups. Could it be about self-reclamation? A taste of independence and she realizes she’s up to the task?? One of my favorite stories was from a friend who got out of a long, co-dependent, painful marriage. She shared that she felt really sexy now – not in attracting a mate but for her self. Love this.
  • Can you add to the story of intimate relationships and dependence vs. independence? If so, please add in the comment section.

How do these musings on personal interdependence relate to the broader world we live in now?

(You all can weave your historical perspective in your interdependence discussion if your from another country, culture ……)

The world is out of whack…I think most of you would agree. Power dynamics are causing grave imbalances in gender equality, racial equality, financial equality. There is a diminishing partnership with the non-human creatures on earth. Earth’s bounty is seen as a resource to be extracted vs venerated and renewed.

We pride ourselves, in the U.S. at least, in being fiercely independent – free to do/be_______WHAT? (Here’s another discussion point for your group – what is the true meaning of freedom?) I’m not sure we are truly free, but we fiercely stand by that unique notion of independence – “no one is going to tell me; I can do what I want. “ The State of New Hampshire motto is “Live Free or Die”. That makes me uncomfortable every time I see it on a NH license plate.

We are also dependent in ways that do not foster healthy, respectful relationships – the #MeTOO movement has shown this. We give our power away too much – we become numb or passive and feel powerless to do anything about it. I’ve been a political activist for years. When I back off trying for a better world, better political, social and economic systems, I end up in despair and feelings of powerlessness. That’s why I try to take action, any action towards that vision that reflects my values and beliefs. If you want to despair, rant or cry, try taking some meaningful action in the spirit of interdependence. It’s a pretty good antidote.

In sum:

  • Fierce independence does not further freedom and healthy, loving partnerships.
  • Dependence on and unconditional deference to another does not further freedom and healthy, loving partnerships.

We must respect ourselves, other humans and the earth

The only way you will be truly free and treated as an equal (worthy notions on the 4th of July in the U.S.) is to embrace interdependence.

How can you survive and thrive in the process?

By recognizing that you are not alone.

That every choice you make must be based on the notion of interdependence. Every action has consequences you may not even see.

Take a stand for interdependence – passivity and violence don’t cut it.

By revering yourself, your family, your neighbors, the earth, you have a better chance of ending up in true partnership–be a witness, a loving ear; be curious; celebrate our differences

Finally …… I promised I’d get there. Thanks for hanging in there with me 😉

What about the soil and the forests as our teachers of interdependence?

>Learn about the elegant interdependence of soil. I’m a devoted gardener and have been in love with dirt for years. Yup! That’s right, DIRT. And saddened about how our farming practices destroy the delicate interdependence of the microorganisms in that dirt. If you can fall in love with dirt, you’re well on your way to saving the earth!!! CHECK OUT:

Secrets of the Soil : New Solutions for Restoring Our Planet, Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird, 1998

>Learn about the elegant interdependence of the forest. Same idea. A forest relies on communication (yes, real communication!) among the trees, the microorganism, the creatures and so much more to thrive.  CHECK OUT:

The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate―Discoveries from a Secret World, Peter Wohlleben, 2016

Learn how indigenous people in the Americas continue to practice interdependence with each other and with the natural world (their teachers). Kimmerer writes of a wonderful kind of interdependence – the marriage of science and indigenous wisdom. CHECK OUT:

Braiding Sweetgrass, Robin Wall Kimmerer, 2013

Happy Interdependence to be celebrated everyday. May you thrive in your connections!

~ Janet

4 thoughts on “Happy Interdependence Day”

  1. Very nice Janet. Good thing to be thinking about on Independence Day. I’m afraid I have been fiercely independent my whole life. If I could start over I would be more flexible.That is the trouble with being young, you just don’t know what you are doing and how it effects the people around you. Just have to says that we did the best we could with the information we had at the time.

    1. Big Hugs to you for speaking truth from youth with wise hindsight:) I’m part of your tribe for sure….I like that self sufficiency but we all need a little vulnerability as we receive help from our friends.

      So love to you, my friend.

      ~ Janet

  2. I have felt for decades that many of us have been in a TAKE BACK YOUR POWER TO BE ABLE TO HAVE A VOICE TO CONTRIBUTE TO THE HIGHEST GOOD type of incarnation… I have found that when I stand tall in my own integrity and speak from my heart, my message is much more likely to be heard resonating from deep inside myself–and then being more able to be heard by others…

    Ending the fear-driven agendas and realigning with the unity of the heart for the good of all gives clarity and courage to my contributions to making life more beautiful for all. And my heart smiles more and more from the practice of being a channel for love and goodness in this world.

    1. Saraswati: Thanks so much for your thoughtful comments. Taking back our power so we can contribute to the greater good. Perfect.
      Hoping you are helping many do just that.

      ~ Janet

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