Interdependence Day

Tom Tancredo, outspoken former GOP congressman from Colorado, writes on Breitbart News, “Why do we continue to celebrate Independence Day each July Fourth when we no longer cherish independence?  Someday soon, our progressive politicians will propose celebrating the first Monday in July as Global Interdependence Day, and no one will protest as long as it includes barbecues and fireworks.”

The rest of the piece is the standard conservative complaint about the loss of cherished traditional values, the “abandonment of America’s unique character “ and so on, punctuated with lines like “Multiculturalism is not an idea to be debated, it’s the new orthodoxy to be obeyed. Or else!”

Multiculturalism is the coexistence of different cultures.  Not sure why that needs debate.

statue_of_liberty_03bAnyway, you probably don’t need me to tell you that that the views of people like Tancredo, and Trump, the Brexit backers in the UK, and others are largely irrational and based on a simplistic us vs. them mentality.  Furthermore, if you want to talk about cherished values, the idea of closed borders seems completely antithetical to one of the values that most typifies America, the spirit of openness. It’s the spirit behind the words in the “The New Colossus” sonnet by American poet Emma Lazarus engraved on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty.

I’ve read a number of articles recently that suggest xenophobia and nationalism are on the rise once again in Europe.  It is firmly entrenched here in the US.  I’m sure you also recognize that Trump is not offering the country anything new, it’s just different.  The right wing has been spouting this same gospel for decades.  What is unique about Trump is that somehow he has managed to make being offensive appealing to a great many potential voters.

About Europe, French journalist Jean Quatremer wonders, “How long can the EU, a project born out of the ruins of the post-war period, resist the wave of xenophobia and paranoia that is sweeping across our old and exhausted societies? Instead of going against the current of public opinion built on fear, European leaders on the right and the left have found no better strategy than to follow the extremist parties, as can be seen in France. Nothing seems capable of stopping this return to nationalism, the very thing that is pulling Europe towards the abyss.”

The same thing applies here, where you have people who can’t stand Trump, stand with him because they don’t know what else to do.

What people think about their country is one thing, the terms in which they think about it is another.  We can say the same about patriotism and nationalism.  The former can be a healthy emotion, but to my mind, the latter is almost always destructive.  When the difference between patriotism and nationalism is blurred and religion is thrown in, the mix is extremely volatile.

I don’t see globalization, multiculturalism, and diversity as things to fear.  I think a Global Interdependence Day is a good idea.  Maybe not on July 4th but some other day.  Interdependence should be celebrated.  Interdependence is reality. We should embrace reality.

Thus interdependence is a fundamental law of nature. Not only higher forms of life but also many of the smallest insects are social beings who, without any religion, law, or education, survive by mutual cooperation based on an innate recognition of their interconnectedness. The most subtle level of material phenomena is also governed by interdependence. All phenomena, from the planet we inhabit to the oceans, clouds, forests, and flowers that surround us, arise in dependence upon subtle patterns of energy. Without their proper interaction, they dissolve and decay.”

Tenzin Gyatsu, the Fourteen Dalai Lama, “The Compassionate Life”

– – – – – – – – – –

Emma_Lazarus“The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”