Editor: Is independence a myth or a rite of passage? As we approach the annual celebration of our independence, I turn to a speech that President John F. Kennedy gave at Independence Hall in Philadelphia on July 4, 1962.
This from a patriot — neither a maverick nor a turncoat: “With the passing of ancient empires, today less than 2 percent of the world’s population lives in territories officially termed ‘dependent.’ As …[the] effort for independence, inspired by the American Declaration of Independence, now approaches a successful close, a great new effort — for interdependence — is transforming the world about us.” President Kennedy went on to say that the U.S. would soon be ready for a Declaration of Interdependence.
On Sept. 12, 2003, colleagues and I, as an act of solidarity in the wake of 9/11/01, introduced a Declaration of Interdependence, just a block away from Independence Hall, at the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia, founded by Benjamin Franklin. Ours was not the first such declaration but I call attention to it as it was born of the recognition that we people of the world are more connected than ever before as technology has made our borders porous, for better and worse. At the same time we declared Sept. 12 to be Interdependence Day — a day to acknowledge the realities of our interdependence and reflect on the moral and civic consequences of those realities.
It is up to us to build on the “better,” the foundation of our promise of “liberty and justice for all” and the “worse,” the frightening reality of our vulnerabilities in a porous world, by declaring our interdependence and adapting our educational, religious, civic and cultural institutions to the culture of interdependence. It’s a daunting but necessary assignment — and it’s ours.
July 3, 2010