For the Fourth of July, I'm lending God Online to my friend Rabbi Irwin Kula, president of the National Center for Jewish Learning and Leadership. Kula, one of the freshest thinkers I know, suggests we amend the holiday -- changing it from Independence Day to Interdependence Day.
Have a look at his reasons, and you'll see why Newsweek calls Kula one of America's most influential rabbis.
For many, July 4th is a day of fireworks and barbecues, but the real meaning of the holiday is ignored.
Independence is an illusion. Maybe it worked from the 1700s to the 20th century, but not now. The spiritual truth is that all of life is interdependent.
People who claim their independence fear dependence, and vice versa. But each needs more of the other because the world is interrelated. We act like teens wanting to be more independent. But independence is dependent on interdependence.
Technology brings us to each other's doorstep, weaving our destinies together. No major world problem can be solved independently. From the Web to global warming, from SARS to terrorist networks, from the Gulf oil spill to volcanic ash, we are more connected than we want to admit.
Nor is such narrow thinking confined to one segment of people. The Republican version of this pathology is the mentality of picking yourself up by your own bootstraps. They blame the poor for their situation and see dependence as a sickness.
Tea Parties seem to be an arrested development movement. Their members seem to feel threatened, fearful that someone will take away their autonomy. Independence can become toxic. It makes selfishness a virtue. It engenders anxiety, mistrust and alienation.
Democrat pathology is the reverse. They assume we have to take care of all poor people. They overemphasize what the U.S. can do.
The more general U.S. pathology is the theme of freedom without responsibility to anyone else. It's true that early on, America understood the need to separate from oppressive regimes. Now it is our responsibility, as the most powerful country, to take the lead on strengthening interdependence.
Fear of coercion keeps us from new responsibilities in a global age. Yet we all know that every decision has a consequence. If we consider only self-interest, how do we deal with a global problem? If we see ourselves connected to the rest of the world, we can make headway on issues such as climate and economics.
On July 4th we need to read the Declaration of Independence: "We hold these truths to be self-evident…" We are all in this together.