It’s that time of year again. Here in our little coastal paradise, hordes or barbarians descend to get out of the inland heat, char some animal flesh, and blow things up on the beach.
Of course, I can’t let a Fourth of July pass without remembering my dear friend Joody, and our attempts to articulate and celebrate new thoughts appropriate to such a revolutionary anniversary. So raise your own flag, occupy your world, get decolonized, start your own currency and declare something wonderful today!
One has to do with the dynamic tension between the two possible sentiments: Independence ~ Interdependence (as Eamonn Kelly would put it). Both are present and necessary in these challenging times.
From an artistic perspective, independence is about the negative space: breaking away from that which we no longer need. There are other examples of the power of this negative-space perspective; the language of the Ten Commandments, the resistance movements of the Arab Spring, and many crucial environmental movements have been drawn around the negative space, with “Thou Shalt Not…” language and a call to STOP doing wrong. This is Michelangelo, knocking away the unwanted bits of marble to free the glorious figure within.
Interdependence is framed more in the positive language that McDonough and Braungart promote in The Upcycle, their new sequel to Cradle to Cradle. It is much more about what we want to move towards, not just what we want to stay away from: “more good” instead of just “less bad.” Interdependence, of course, is the province of the weaver, finding the gossamer connections between things. The first peoples of Turtle Island/North America spoke of Grandmother Spider, who knew a thing or two about interdependence. This is not a wisdom taught as commonly in the dominant, Euro-derived culture. It is a harder thing to see the immaterial links between, the pattern which connectsand keeps communities, civilizations and ecosystems whole and healthy.
Again this year, I celebrate and embrace both, entwined as they are in their powerful dance. I declare Independence ~ Interdependence!