On Independence Day, I thought about interdependence instead. Because that's just the kind of weirdo I am.
I thought about a document so breathtakingly radical it sparked not only a revolution and a new nation, but a whole new way of thinking. In declaring independence from a distant and tyrannical monarch, our nation's founders also declared independence from old and outdated ways of thinking about government and society.
I thought about how radical the phrase "all men are created equal" must have seemed in 1776. Even when we allow for the fact that ALL, in the minds of the founders, included only white male landowners, it was still a big and revolutionary idea. No more divinely-anointed monarchs. No more class distinctions. All of us equal as created.
The words of the Declaration still ring deep and powerful today. Independence. Unalienable rights. Self-governance. Freedom from tyranny. Freedom to pursue happiness. Individually, but also collectively -- as a people united not by soil or culture, but by a philosophy so radical it shook the world -- we strive toward the idea of true freedom.
So yes, on Independence Day, I thought about interdependence.
About how, in pursing our individualistic American-ness, it's easy to forget how much we need each other. How even in its vastness, how small our world can seem in this age of instant information. How easily the problems and concerns of our neighbors, be they around the corner or around the world, become our concerns. About how deeply we rely on each other.
And about how tender and fragile we really are. And how fearful, angry, and resentful we become, especially when left to our own devices. How desperately we cling to destructive emotions like buoys when we feel ourselves alone and adrift.
Because not one of us is truly alone. Not one of us is truly independent. Nor should we be.
The great Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh said, "We are here to awaken from the illusion of our separateness." I think about that a lot lately, especially when it comes to songwriting and performance.
I long to connect, so I find myself newly excited about getting out into the world to play songs for three-dimensional people. It's what I know how to do, so I'm making plans for recording and travel so I can keep on connecting with other humans through the medium of words and music.
This Sunday evening, I'll be playing songs at Jalopy Theatre in my hometown of Brooklyn, alongside Rod MacDonald, a songwriter whose words and music have most certainly impacted my life from the moment I first heard them. Reserve your tickets HERE and join us if you're in the neighborhood...
I'm also currently making plans to play in lots of other people's hometowns in the coming months, so be sure to check the SHOWS page on my website to find out which ones.
If your hometown is not among them, well, why not ask me to come and play? I play house/backyard concerts, church basement concerts, bar concerts, coffeehouse concerts, garden concerts... basically, you provide the space and some listeners and I'll play. Send me a note about it HERE to make it happen.
Let's stay connected, friends...