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Saturday, July 5, 2008

Independence Day?

For the Fourth of July, my aunt was sweet enough to invite my family up to her house for a cook out. As usual, I brought my camera, in the hopes of perpetuating the myth that I somehow know what I am doing with this piece of memory catching equipment. I truly don't, and yesterday I didn't get very many good shots. I'd love to take a class, but I can't seem to find any in Lexington, KY that are for amateurs. Oh well.

Something was off yesterday, though. In an ironic way, it sort of drove home something I've been recently pondering. Why can't I bring myself to depend on somebody?

Over 200 years ago, our forefathers declared themselves "Independent". Tired of being in a relationship where they weren't validated, valued, appreciated, or treated as an equal, they said, "Enough!" Sound familiar ladies?

And while every year we get together with friends and loved ones and celebrate the concept of being independent with the traditions of overeating and blowing crap up, do we truly value independence in our culture?

Being a single gal in her mid-twenties, unwed, and with no children of my own, I can say that my Independence Days have never drawn as much as a sparkler. For example, I have never:

1. Been thrown a Congratulations-On-Buying-A-House-By-Yourself shower
2. Been given a photo album devoted solely to pictures of the day I got a huge raise
3. Had my parents shed tears, because my cats learned how to use their new cat door for the first time
4. Come home and found balloons and a sign in my front yard, proclaiming, "It's a Promotion!"

I recently joked on Mother's Day that I was declaring a "Single Non-Breeders Day", where everyone had to shower me with gifts and come fix stuff around my house. Only my sister was amused.

Our culture certainly doesn't value DEpendence either, though. Magazines are covered with headlines reading,

"Single and Loving It"
"How to be Happy without a Man"
"How She Moved On"

How many times have we seen a woman on a talk show finally making the decision to leave an abusive jerk and the crowd goes wild, Gloria Gaynor comes blaring through the speakers, and confetti rains down from the ceiling?

So which is it? To be Independent, or not to be...that is the question.

And I think I may have finally figured it out.

We value Interdependence. Allowing yourself to depend upon another human being, who shares your values, your ambitions, your principals, and ultimately those experiences that make us part of the larger human experience. A man and a woman devoting their lives to one another in front of family and friends. A mother letting go of a toddler to take his first steps, but still being behind him in case he falls. A father receiving a pile of tacky gifts once a year in June and still being truly happy, because he knows those gifts mean he is surrounded by love.

It's not that we don't value independence. It's that we value interdependence more, because it means simply...that we are not alone.

That we are in the frame.

Not just taking the pictures.

Most people remember the first line of the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence, "We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal..."

I like the last line better.

"And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor."

In other words, we rely on God for protection, and each other for support.

Happy Interdependence Day.