Independence or Interdependence?

I am wearing beautiful cotton clothing stitched by sun-beaten hands in a faraway place where the Buddha was born. The dyes used to color them come from ground up plants and a broth of chemicals. The bright blue bag sitting next to me that holds my books comes from Germany and is made from old truck tarpaulins. As I write, I am sitting in an elevated wooden chair in my favorite coffee shop, with a steaming cup of tea within reach of one hand. The tea leaves are left to dry under a distant sun. Millions of trees are ground into pulp to make the disposable cup I drink from. Gigantic steel ships traverse the seas, every day of every year, to deliver these goods, leaving hundreds of miles of smoky, black trails in their wake. After crossing the invisible line of arbitrary borders, they are waved in to dock by the welcoming flag of good relations.

Is patriotism a symbol of a false sense of division? Does it reflect what we might think of as communal ego, that serves only to separate—as if we could? Do we find solace in it and a sense of belonging, security and community? Or is it through political obedience? Are either valid?

Imagine there’s no countries 
It isn’t hard to do 
Nothing to kill or die for 
And no religion too 
Imagine all the people 
Living life in peace 

You may say that I’m a dreamer 
But I’m not the only one 
I hope someday you’ll join us 
And the world will be as one …

~ John Lennon

2 responses to “Independence or Interdependence?

  1. Simon the Englishman

    Hi Donna,
    Took me a minute to figure it out because for me the 4th of July just means its my sisters wedding anniversary, but then the penny dropped. Its the day grumpy middle class brits tired of not having any power kicked out upper class exploitatative brits from the colonies on your side of the pond and the ideas of Thomas Payne were swept under the carpet as being a bit too radical.(I once helped hang his portrait up in the museum I used to work in )Then hey presto a two party super power came into being. I Like the “Gigantic steal ships…” typo. The collective unconcious moves in mysterious ways:) The question I have to ask is to what extent are we really separate given that individual egos are purportedly illusory anyway? Also (according to Krishna) we have to all play our individual role whether we like it or not and not to worry because we are all live as one “underneath” it all. Then again from a taoist/Zen perspective there is no “underneath” and what you see is what you get but it is still one and a complete mystery. Just ask any quantum physicist. Patriotism has always been a bit of an anthropological curiosity to me although it came in handy your side after 1941. Otherwise my side would have been over run with swastika waving petit bourgoise nut cases. So patriotism can be mixed, good and bad. I don’t think we shall be able to transcend it for the forseeable future. Just have to play it by ear as we go along.
    p.s. my favourite Lennon tracks are “So tired” and “Yer Blues”
    God save the Queen/bless America etc etc

  2. Hi Simon,
    “Love” is a beautiful and special Lennon track.

    Thanks for your thoughts (typo fixed – thank you!).

    And true – underneath what? We can’t find anything any longer!

    The “other” – just to mirror us and show us what we have to deal with.

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