Interdependence can be a good thing. It wraps partners into relationships that encourage them to at least look for compromise and win/win scenarios. But when it gets one sided, it can be a trap. Just think about our dependence on foreign oil. Our brothers, sisters, children, and parents fight and die in far away places that we would hardly consider intervening in were it not for oil or the resulting dysfunctions of the surrounding region. Because of our dependence, questionable governments and leaders are blessed with largess, and often live out Gandhi’s admonition that wealth without work is a blunder that can destroy the world.
Now, don’t get me wrong. In a deeply connected world, we must engage. We must be good partners. However, in every good partnership, marriage, or friendship, the players operate best from a place of strength. When one holds a substantial advantage over the other, or the pain of exit is greater than the ecstasy of entry into another more positive relationship, dangerous dynamics ensue. In personal relations, verbal abuse, physical battering, and exploitation can result. In global foreign relations, radical rhetoric, erratic economies, and military maelstroms are our reward.
As most of us clearly recognize, we are best served by having a healthy, educated, independent, personal base from which to operate in our worlds of work, home, and beyond. When we center ourselves and get on purpose, take care of our bodies, and expand our education, we are better parents, partners, friends, and neighbors. It’s no different with our country. When we take care of each other, educate our citizenry, and foster healthy, independent infrastructures, we can be better, more responsible players on the world stage.
It’s not about protectionism, isolationism, or xenophobia. It’s about being a good partner in an increasingly flat, connected, and interdependent world. Maybe it would help if once a year we champion a healthy independence day. July 4th sounds good!