I propose that the day following Independence Day should be celebrated as Interdependence Day. July the Fifth shall henceforth be the day we acknowledge our hopeless interdependence on everyone else.
That’s where we live. We have no other place to go. We are all here sharing the same lifeboat. Outside of Spaceship Earth there is the void of space which is hostile to our kind and the other kinds of life we know about.
Think about what it takes for you to read these words. The infrastructure necessary is vast and complex and requires the efforts of many, many people to keep working. Imagine, at breakfast, how many people, how many machines, how much electricity and fuel, and how many businesses and other entities are required to provide you with toast, eggs, and orange juice.
One of the biggest commodities the human race needs to prosper on this planet is iron ore. From iron ore we get steel and steel is needed for way too many things for me to list.
The world needs about two billion tons of iron ore every year. Two billion tons! Most of it comes from Australia, Brazil, and China, but both the US and Canada each produce about 50 millions tons of iron ore annually. That 100 million tons from us and our neighbor is only five percent of the world supply, but every little bit counts.
There’s a mine in Canada in northern Quebec that needs a 261-mile (420-kilometre in Canadian) dedicated railway just to haul the products (ore concentrates) to the port for shipping. And that’s nothing: there’s another rail line in Brazil for iron ore that’s 554 miles long (892 km)!
And those represent a small fraction of the world’s production of just ONE commodity. Look at all the effort and trouble, not to mention expertise, that people put into digging this stuff out of the ground! It’s amazing, if you think about it. That computer case at your feet and that car in your driveway would not exist without the many thousands of people working in the mining sector. Plus all the people who turn the raw materials into products and ship them all over the world.
The human race lives a precarious existence on this third rock from the sun. All the stuff we need to survive is made by all of us, all over the world. And it takes all of us to pass it around and make sure it gets where it needs to go.
We are hopelessly interdependent. Our societies are too complex for any one person, they only survive and thrive because of the sum total of all of us.
July the Fourth celebrates our need for identity and personal liberty. Those are beautiful things.
But those aren’t possible without the human social structures underneath and the web of connections that bind us all together and make us dependent on each other.