(in)Dependence Day

Today is Independence Day in Israel. The date moves around on your Gregorian calendars every year because Israel’s official calendar is the Hebrew lunar calendar. As Wikipedia explains it: “Independence Day is designated to be on the 5th day of Iyar (ה’ באייר) in the Hebrew calendar, the anniversary of the day on which Israeli independence was proclaimed, when David Ben-Gurion publicly read the Israeli Declaration of Independence. The corresponding Gregorian date was 14 May 1948.” See Independence_Day_(Israel). Many countries, especially those that had been colonized, celebrate their Independence Days; for example, the 4th of July in the USA.

Independence is a wonderful feeling and most people around the world want it for themselves, although it is most often achieved and maintained only with blood, sweat, and tears. This is well-known.

There are limits to independence. Most often it starts at the country level (if it starts at all). Then there may develop strongly held differences of opinion along the way, and half the country wants to secede from the union. There was a bloody civil war in America, which almost resulted in America splitting into two countries. But it doesn’t have to stop there. Anywhere there are people with differing opinions or interests that are strongly held, let’s say stronger than the bonds that hold people together, there is a possibility that that group might want to detach itself from the larger group and become independent. Pushed to absurdity, every tribe, clan, or family might want (and be willing to fight for) its independence. John Donne wrote, “No man is an island”, and yet every man might want to be his own country. There are limits to independence, which reasonable men and women generally accept.

But I want to talk about something else: our dependence on each other. Once a people achieve independence and have their own country, they realize how dependent they are on each other, no matter where they came from, who they are, or what they believe or think. We all need an army to defend us. The army needs its countrymen to support it and to fill its ranks. We need religions to remind us of our moral and ethical responsibilities and our historical and spiritual roots, and religions need all of us to support and defend them. We need a government to lead and protect us, to provide services and infrastructure, and to deal with other countries diplomatically or militarily. The government needs its citizens to support it and to keep it honest and effective. We need the police, doctors and nurses, teachers, mechanics, farmers, fishermen, importers and exporters, pilots, cab drivers, truck drivers, trash and garbage collectors, and the list goes on and on. It’s easy for us to imagine how miserable we would be if they weren’t there; just remember the times some of them went on strike.

As a matter of fact, I propose we establish a new holiday. Yes, I know there are already more holidays than there are days in a year. So, I propose yet another holiday, which I’d call “Dependence Day”. On that day, at least once a year, we should recognize all the people on whom we depend, especially the ones we don’t generally think about, with all the speeches, dancing in the streets, fireworks, etc. that they deserve.

Think about this when you deprecate or ignore the needs or aspirations of one group or another: only when everyone does what he can, can we all exist.

6 Comments

Filed under Essays, Dilemmas, & Philosophy

6 responses to “(in)Dependence Day

  1. How about “intra-dependence” day?

    • To tell the truth, I think we’re globally interdependent too, but I didn’t want to bite off more than I could chew today, so I’ll stick with Dependence Day. Go create your own holiday, if you want.

  2. Does Israel have anything like Thanksgiving day? Dependence day seems like a secular version of it. Maybe.

    • I never thought of it that way, Mike. Thanksgiving day has always seemed to me to be spiritually directed, showing our gratitude toward God rather than toward men and women. In any case, Israel and Jews around the world celebrate Sukkot (the Festival or Feast of the Tabernacles or Booths) which gives thanks to God for our harvests, which seems to me similar to Thanksgiving. Come to think of it, our Independence Day gives thanks to our soldiers, policemen, and firemen, and commemorates those who risked limb and life to defend us against our enemies. But my idea was to somehow put the spotlight on those people in the background, the ones nobody ever thinks of, to make us all explicitly aware of how dependent we are on those people for our own well-being. I know, it’s an uphill battle against the divisiveness, mistrust, and hatred tearing our societies apart in Israel, America, and much of Europe.

  3. May I suggest the name “Codependence Day” instead? Sounds a bit less “one way”…

    • I suppose codependence allows everybody to “feel good” about their part of the bargain, but often we get more than we give; that is, we should feel indebted to those on whom we depend. My post is directed at those who think or say we would all be better off if there were no [choose a group of people you can’t stand].

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