Independence Day?

What an American celebration this Independence Day.  Who among us does not want to be independent? From infancy on we struggle to assert our independence, to go where we want to and do what we want to. It is part of the American psyche.

The ability to cross the street, ride a bike and finally drive a car are progressive stages we go through to achieve this sense of independence.  And in elderhood losing the ability to drive seems to be a major emotional blow that heralds a loss of independence. No wonder people love Independence Day.

We hate to feel dependent (how very often in my ministry have I heard that sentiment from people I counsel)! And we believe that independence is the opposite of dependence – which might make linguistic sense. But the reality is there is another option that is better theologically.

Independence Day is not a holiday you will find in Jesus teaching. From sending the seventy out in teams of two, to entrusting his mother Mary to John, Jesus seems to live out and commend interdependence.

No matter what we do we cannot be totally independent. Even those living in the interior of Alaska must depend on others from time to time. Human beings are social animals, even those who treasure solitude need some sort of community if we are to be balanced and whole. So what we need to achieve is interdependence where we recognize that we depend on others even as they depend on us – this is the weft & warp of the fabric of society, and the Christian community.

We need to share our journey, we need the encouragement and companionship interdependence provides. When we can accept our interdependence we are happier and healthier emotionally than when we try to achieve complete independence. Too often we try to be independent of others and even of God believing we can be self-sufficient – and in truth we cannot. We are part of creation, of the human family, and of God’s family by baptism & grace.

Now that July 4th is over let us live and celebrate our INTERdependence.


About don

The Rev Don Hill is an Episcopal priest, rail fan and writer. He and his wife the Rev. Dr. Nancy Woodworth-Hill are currently Co-Pastors of St Paul's Episcopal Church, Jeffersonville IN, in the Diocese of Indianapolis. They also work as parish consultants in Appreciative Inquiry, strategic planning and spirituality development for parishes and vestries.
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