So as July 4 approaches I began to think about some of the not so subtle messages of the holiday. And of course, as a news junkie, have been following the daily back and forth in American political “dialogue”. We celebrate independence this week. However, I began to consider that really what we may need to look at is a celebration for society of inter-dependence. We are all, really inter-connected in this world and one of the challenges is that too few of us realize this.
Maybe this is another reason the world needs to be run by a coalition of elders and children. Maybe grandparents and grandchildren? After all, it seems that these two groups understand that you get more things done by cooperation than by going it alone. This inter-connectedness was first introduced to me on a macro level by a professor of mine at seminary. Dr Rivkin (z’l) taught us about his theory of “globalization”, which was an attempt to see the world (and this was in the late 60s and early 70s) as changing, becoming more global and inter-connected due to technology. Fast forward to this century and you see the same idea written about in books by Thomas Friedman. In his “The World Is Flat” and “Hot, Cold and Crowded”, he writes that the techno revolution “was leveling the global economic playing field and enabling so many more people around the world to compete, connect, and collaborate”. The effects of this “flattening” was making the people and nations of the world more inter-connected.
Economics and political science aside, the symbolism of this global change (and this change is real) is understood by us, as we age, by the reality that we need people and we need connections. The “theology of relationships” is very profound as we come to understand that it is only by being with and involved with people that we find the texture and meaning in life. Being with people, in varying degrees of relationship, allows us to “mirror” our identity. We see some of our own self in these relationships. We gain an understanding of shared needs, wants, desires, challenges and flaws by understanding that what we feel and experience is not just about each of us, but that what we experience and feel is often shared by others. It is being with and part of community that true progress of self and society, is achieved.
One of the great contributions of technology is that it has made it easier to be connected with people around the world. That same technology can also isolate each of us and provide a false sense of ego identity and power. There is a challenge for people and nations to merge into this new inter-connected global world and on the one hand, maintain a sense of personal identity and integrity, while at the same time, see the value of this inter-connected world as a means for greater progress, understanding and cooperation.
There is a reading in a contemporary prayer book that speaks to the spiritual aspect of the need for inter-dependence. It seems like a fitting meditation for this season: “Standing on the parted shores of history we still believe what we were taught before ever we stood at Sinai’s foot; that wherever we go, it is eternally Egypt, that there is a better place, a promised land; that the winding way to that promise passes thought the wilderness. That there is no way to get from here there except by joining hands, marching together.”
Rabbi Richard F Address