happy interdependence day

Happy Fourth of July.

Independence Day.

What a scam.

I’m all for a party – I’m American! – but what exactly are we celebrating? The liberation of a few white colonists from King George?

Freedom? No woman I know is celebrating being told what to do with her uterus.



I’m going to celebrate Interdependence Day. I will light the grill and enjoy fireworks – I want to feed people I love and say “ooh” and “aah” with a bunch of people I don’t know. I will be grateful for everyone upon whom I depend, and for everyone who depends on me.

None of us are independent. We all need each other. Plus we need a lot of people we’ll never meet. Take for example everyone who made the screens where I’m typing this idea and you’re reading it.


I’m a proud American. By that I mean I’m the product of people who came from many different places and gene pools. My relatives include descendants of 17th century immigrants from the British Isles, Holocaust survivors, Jews, Catholics, Agnostics, Protestants, and a U.N.-grade variety of ethnic, racial, and cultural extensions by marriage. When I taught in the classroom I used to write pairs of words on the white board that symbolized dichotomies (UCLA/USC, Black/White, Rich/Poor, etc) and I’d tape a $20 bill next to the list, a prize for anyone who could figure out what the descriptors had in common. They were all characteristics of my family tree. I still have that twenty bucks.

As different as they were, the people in my family needed each other to make a family. That doesn’t mean they always got along. At every holiday meal my grandmother argued with my aunt about whether to open or close the window to the alley. Someone opened the window. Someone else closed it. Finally the simmering boiled over into a battle royale: “It’s too hot – open the damn window!” “It’s freezing in here, will you PLEASE close the window?”

This is how they said “I love you” and they didn’t just need each other, they needed us as their studio audience/ jury/ seconds. “Don’t you think it’s hot? Tell her it’s cold, she’ll listen to you!”

So it is with all of us. Whether it’s for validation, business, or life’s basics, we need each other. I needed all those people just to exist.

Today each of us will need to exchange goods, services, and currency that provide food, shelter, clothing, and transportation. Your t-shirt supply chain has been documented by approximately 9,000 websites and travels twice that many miles from the cotton plantation to your back.


In case you still have some Horatio Alger / Huck Finn – inspired dream of making your way in the world without depending on anyone, consider that every entrepreneur, athlete, entertainer, artist, author, and other “individual” performers you admire had people in their lives who provided help, support, and opportunity.

You can’t even tickle yourself. And what if you could? What if you could somehow override the sensory predictions made by an internal forward model of your motor system? You’d be missing out on most of what makes life worth living.

The Declaration of Independence was useful in its time. The Declaration of Interdependence is more relevant today.

We need each other. Go tickle someone.