Interdependence Day

Today we're hosting a party at our house for something between 30-55 people (depending on who turns up and when). It is ostensibly to celebrate American Independence Day and to say thanks to Hannah Williams our Young Adult Volunteer from the PCUSA, who has been with us at Dundonald for the past year.

We had a great time in Michigan for Independence Day last year, but I continue to have difficulty with any heavily patriotic festival (believing with Samuel Johnston that far too often "patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel") and nationalistic flag-waving of any flavour.
And whilst I can understand the reasons that the USA might want to celebrate their independence from British colonialism (even though the founder of Methodism, John Wesley would not have agreed), the myth of "independence" has seeped deep into the American psyche and mutated into a stubborn individualism, which, over the past century they have, in turn exported to the rest of the world, in the form of hedonistic consumerism. This drive towards individualism is theoretically counterbalanced by the American ideal of democracy (although strictly speaking the USA is not a democracy in its truest sense, but a republic)... but all too often the independence and individualism that runs deep in the American mentality (and which, at least in part may be inherited from Ulster-Scots thrawnness), leads to neglect of the democratic structures, because people don't see government as having anything to do with them, suspicion of government (especially federal government), or to democratic engagement based purely on self-interest. This is not simply a feature of American politics, but it does seem to be written into the DNA of America, and affects not only internal US politics, but also its engagement with the wider world.
Over and against this tendency to take independence to unhealthy extremes, and in the face of a growing awareness that in order to tackle the major global issues that lie ahead we will need to work together as individuals and nations, a number of people and agencies have, at different times advocated the celebration of "Interdependence Day." There are various suggestions for a date: July 4th itself... the day after... while others suggest the day after 9/11...

Whatever day we do it, I think its a good idea. And in many ways that is what we will be celebrating in our party tomorrow. A young American Presbyterian girl, coming across the Atlantic to work with a Methodist congregation and community project in a number of programmes, crossing social, cultural and generational barriers to help others.

I want to celebrate and encourage that every day...

But then that interdependence is right at the heart of what God created us to be, made in his image... eternally in relationship... Whilst the assertion of independence is part of what caused our fall from grace... and became part of our ongoing punishment...
If I'm going to celebrate anything, let it be the fact that Christ showed us that we are not independent of each other... and called us to follow his example...


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