Americans around the world recently celebrated the 4th of July, a monumental day marking the country’s independence. The festivities and fireworks inspired me to reflect on moments that have signified shifts in my own understanding of both independence and interdependence.
In America, we often equate independence with freedom. Nevertheless, we frequently cultivate relationships with other foreign powers in order to protect and promote our interest, chief among them being what Americans like to refer to as fundamental freedoms (check out the U.S. constitution in general or the Bill of Rights in particular for further information). When examined closely, we come to notice that these international relationships are built upon mounds of mutually beneficial agreements and intricate webs of interdependence.
Imagine if America was completely independent. Free of any foreign connections of any kind. In such an increasingly connected world the thought is nearly inconceivable. The extreme end of independence whereby the nation can become entirely self-sufficient is even economically unrealistic when considering concepts such as scarcity and specialization. All nations are interdependent in some capacity whether it is related to trade, security or global development.
I fervently believe that the aspects that make America such a dynamic and resilient nation often reside at the nexus of community and diversity. Each day one can witness new relationships blossoming at the International Student House. Residents often rely on each other for advice and assistance on a wide range of issues. The house undeniably serves as a microcosm of a global community where individuals worldwide take pride in reliable relationships that allow both involved parties to realize their aspirations.
Next year on the 4th of July I intend to celebrate the progress of this great nation. However, I will also strive to consider the contributions that other nations have made that continue to strengthen the character and capacity of this country. I will remember the sacrifices of soldiers and diplomats working to provide and preserve peace around the world as countries in conflict fight over various variations or interpretations of freedom and independence. I will not only celebrate the day we were declared independent but also all of the unacknowledged days where we demonstrate our interdependence as proud contributors to a growing and glowing global community.