We Americans have had a long love affair with rugged individualism: the myth of the pioneer, the astronaut, the superstar athlete – usually male figures who are self-reliant, scornful of authority, independent of community, and completely confident in his self-sufficiency.
On a national level, this myth encourages some to believe we don’t need to cooperate with other nations, that we can go it alone. After all, we are powerful and wealthy, self-reliant in food and energy production, leaders in technology and business.
Questioning the myth of the rugged individual can seem almost unpatriotic.
But we also have a deeper-rooted narrative that speaks to our INTERdependence. As the Declaration of Independence was being signed, Benjamin Franklin observed that, “We must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.” Franklin D. Roosevelt memorably reminded us of our mutual dependence in his first Inaugural Address, in the midst of the Great Depression, when he said, “We now realize as we have never realized before our interdependence on each other; that we cannot merely take but we must give as well.”
I like the FDR quote because it reminds me that “takers” disguise their selfishness as something noble. Times of crisis, like the Great Depression or the current Climate Crisis, require us to remember our interdependence. They remind us that human existence is an integral part of a complex set of integrated physical and biological systems that make life possible, and that climate is global. National boundaries are irrelevant to climate change.
Sustainable Business Partners is a certified B Corporation. In the certification process, we added our signature to the B Corp Declaration of Interdependence, which affirms, among other things:
- “That we must be the change we seek in the world.
- “That all business ought to be conducted as if people and place mattered.
- “That, through their products, practices, and profits, businesses should aspire to do no harm and benefit all.
- “To do so requires that we act with the understanding that we are each dependent upon another and thus responsible for each other and future generations.”
The environmental, social, and political challenges we face are far too large for any individual person, company, or nation to tackle alone. As we build a new, inclusive, interdependent economy together, we aim to avoid the worst of the disruptions that are fast approaching. May we succeed in building an economy that benefits all.
Happy Interdependence Day!Questioning the myth of rugged individualism can seem unpatriotic, but America has a deeper-rooted narrative about our INTERdependence. Our #environmental and #social challenges can only be solved by working together. #BCorp Click To Tweet