Happy Independence Day! Happy Interdependence Day! by Moshe Kornfeld
My wedding anniversary is today, July 5th. Each year, I joke with my spouse that July 4th is Independence Day and July 5th is dependance, or perhaps interdependence, day.
This year, I’m thinking about how the interplay of independence and interdependence might shape our understanding of the dizzying Supreme Court rulings from of the past few weeks. It was painful to watch as unelected justices stripped people of rights to bodily autonomy, eroded the separation of church and state, undercut gun restrictions, and kneecapped the federal government’s ability to regulate greenhouse gasses. These rulings undermine our freedom to live safe, healthy, and sustainable lives in the name of individual liberty. “Independence” is king; interdependence is ignored.
A governing ideology that uplifts personal autonomy for a select few above all else is incapable of addressing the climate crisis—the most challenging collective action problem our species has ever faced. Rather, we must nurture an awareness of interdependence with all those who inhabit our beautiful, life-sustaining planet.
Before slinking away in despair, please keep in mind that systems of cooperation are at the heart of modern living. Just think of the package that comes to your door, the water that flows to your tap, the power that runs our homes, and the transportation systems that crisscross the globe. While the Supreme Court attempts to block our path, we must reclaim interdependence and cooperation as our primary tools for addressing our existential challenges.
Bill McKibben, the founder of the climate group 350.org, has recently noted that “Mother nature keeps hitting us upside the head with a 2x4.” For us at Colorado Jewish Climate Action, ongoing ecological degradation alongside the Supreme Court ruling requires that we redouble our efforts to elect politicians committed to climate action at the federal level and keep pressuring our state and local officials to do more and more.
My ancestors fled persecution and poverty for a life of freedom and prosperity here in the United States. I celebrate the freedoms that America has provided my family. I celebrate independence. And then, on the next day, I celebrate interdependence. I celebrate our freedom to fight for those who continue to be marginalized and whose rights to bodily autonomy are under threat. I make a renewed commitment to creation care and to climate justice.
Happy Independence Day! Happy Interdependence Day!
Moshe is the son of Debby and George Kornfeld and is founder of Colorado Jewish Climate Action.