Interdependence, on Independence Day

by | Jul 4, 2023 | Systemic Change

I recently had the pleasure of talking with Laurie Fitz on her Saturday morning radio show, Connections.  

We explored some of the values that the United States is founded upon, the inequities that prevail in this country, and how we each can take small steps to create the kind of connections that we want as we strive together to create a world that works for everyone.  I hope you’ll listen to the replay and leave a comment if you feel so inspired. 

In the meantime, I want to  say a few things about why I think it’s important for us to move away from glorifying independence (born out of submission and then rebellion) towards embracing a cultural ethic of interdependence.  

Interdependence highlights the beautiful dance of interconnectedness and mutual reliance among individuals, groups, or entities. While interdependence contains independent entities, the relationship between those entities is mutually beneficial – not competitive or exploitative. It’s all about recognizing that we’re in this together and our actions and decisions have a ripple effect on one another.  

Now, let’s differentiate this from independence and dependence. Independence is like that fiercely strong-willed person who can go about their business without relying on anyone else. They strut their stuff with autonomy and a sense of self-sufficiency, marching to the beat of their own drum.

On the flip side, dependence is like being stuck in the passenger seat, relying heavily on others to steer the wheel and make decisions. It can feel limiting and put you in a subordinate position and a disempowered state where you feel like everything is just happening to you and there is very little that you can do about it. 

Interdependence is the delightful blend of both worlds, and has 4 main characteristics: 

  1. Mutual Reliance:  Interdependence involves a mutual reliance among entities, where each party relies on the other for support, resources, or cooperation. It emphasizes the recognition of the interconnectedness and mutual benefits that result from collaboration. It’s about embracing the fact that we need each other, while still maintaining our individual autonomy. It’s a beautiful dance where we work hand in hand, recognizing that our actions and decisions intertwine and influence one another.
  2. Reciprocity: Interdependence thrives on reciprocity.  It’s all about the give and take, and understanding that the choices we make have consequences for others, and vice versa. It highlights the feedback loops and interconnections between different elements within a system.
  3. Cooperation and collaboration: Interdependence often calls for cooperation, collaboration, and finding common ground to achieve our shared goals. It emphasizes the need for collective effort and joint decision-making to address challenges or pursue shared interests.
  4. Balancing autonomy and interconnection: Interdependence strikes a delicate balance between asserting our own individuality and acknowledging our interconnectedness. It’s like a symphony where each instrument has its own melody, yet harmonizes with the rest of the orchestra to create something truly remarkable. 

We witness interdependence in all facets of life, from the tapestry of social relationships to the intricate ecosystems of our planet, and even the complex web of global politics. 

Recognizing and embracing interdependence can open our eyes to the profound impacts of our actions and the need for collective effort to tackle the challenges we face.

This 4th of July, let’s celebrate interdependence – appreciating the beauty of our connections – and nurturing the bonds that make us stronger together. Remember, we’re all on this profound journey of life together, hand in hand, step by step.

How does this land?  I’d love to know.  Leave a comment below.


  1. Bill Manahan

    This is a great column, Yvette. It is packed with wise and important information. It needs to be published in the Star Tribune!

  2. Wayne Palmeter

    I can think of no better person than you to write a ‘Declaration of Interdependence.’What a marvelous concept.

  3. Nancee M Volpi

    So timely! We either lesrn interdependence willingly or the climate crisis will force us to

  4. Suzann Long

    Since I first heard and read your words “create a world that works for everyone” I have been able to look for the strategies within myself and in others to gain courage to act and speak and trust to believe that the ways of non-violence, especially as you convey them in the world, have survived and are gaining power to regenerate shared humanity. I love the metaphor of the orchestra and all the different instruments playing their individual part even the composer, even the staff who set up the music stands and the kettle drums on stage. Thank you so much Yvette.


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