Freedom is a really nice illusion.
The idea of individual autonomy is one fought for every single day in my country, and I suspect in yours as well. It’s the public battleground where so much blood is shed and so many hills are taken, only to be lost again.
And yet beneath every moment of necessary struggle and every well-earned bit of progress toward personal liberty, there is a greater war to be won: the one to remember and honor our connectedness.
We are an ever more siloed people, deeply sequestered in the protective bubbles of those we consider our tribe; so often those who look like, sound, spend, worship, vote, and love like we do. That becomes our understanding of the world. We shrink all of humanity down to a tiny, close collection of the people we think our life impacts and is touched by.
And yes, those nearest to us will hopefully feel the ripples of our lives most profoundly and come to know us most fully, yet the truest truth we have access to is that those ripples travel further than we ever realize. They just keep going out and coming in.
Everything is connected.
Separation is a myth.
All the false borders we erect: of race and religion and condition and place and station, they all tend to reinforce the idea that the other is something we need to be protected from. They often orient our lives around a posture of fear and self-preservation; the lie that another’s gain is somehow our loss, (whoever we determine that another to be).
Though these distinctions have value and need to be acknowledged and celebrated, they often wall us of from those whose foreign stories we need to step into in and whose wisdom we desperately need. They deprive us of the great diversity our souls are designed to flourish in. These self-made barriers also keep us in denial of our responsibility toward others, exempting us from owning our part in the greater global community.
Whether one believes in a Divine Creator who designed it and spoke it into being or in a chance process that happened it over time, this planet is humanity’s home.
It is our single shared space where we seek meaning and breathe and run and curse and pray and love and kill and dance and die—and we do none of it truly independently, never completely disconnected from it all.
If we don’t live intentionally mindful of this, we will not be doing justice to the precious, fleeting days we are given, and we will be perpetually living at less than we are capable of living.
Today in America people will rightly celebrate the birth of our nation, and the personal freedoms we seek as a people (with varying results) to protect and celebrate.
Yet this and every day is an opportunity to realize how much we need, rely on, learn from, and owe to one another, far beyond our geography.
We are all one tribe.
Every person is the neighbor we are called to love as ourselves.
A child across town or half a world a way is a precious as the one sleeping in our nursery.
Wherever and whenever you may be reading this, may this truth find its way into the deepest recesses of your heart.
Happy Interdependence Day.