With the Fourth of July holiday still a couple of weeks away, advertisers are already turning to the airwaves and print media to urge us Americans to begin getting ready to celebrate – together. And surely this year, as more and more venues shuttered by the pandemic begin to “open up” again, we as a nation will be doing just that. The words Independence Day will be brimming over with meaning that in years past we didn’t fully appreciate. We can all be grateful for that.
Here is an additional concept we can be grateful for as well. Enshrined in the center of the word “independence” stands another, and very different, one. That’s “dependence.” In the context in which our Founding Fathers were acting, dependence was an entirely oppressive and negative condition, something to be fiercely fought against.
But over the course of the past year, we believe it is fair to assume that most Americans have come to understand that dependence has another side. After months of social isolation and separation from those people, institutions and activities on which we had regularly relied to enrich our lives – and to meet some of our most important physical, emotional and psychological needs – a return to some level of “regular dependence” (or perhaps we should say interdependence) will be a welcome change.
Our last entry in this space focused on the “Come Back” campaign. It acknowledged that returning to the way we were might not be an easy or natural one for seniors, who were among the first groups to quarantine. The campaign was an example of a positive and enthusiastic way to encourage seniors to take the first steps on the journey back to senior centers and congregate nutrition programs.
We are hopeful that this year as we gather to celebrate Independence Day – still and always our greatest of purely American holidays – we will all take some time to acknowledge the equal gifts that dependence and interdependence can be. We are privileged indeed to live in a nation not only where individuals and their freedoms are honored and protected but also where communities and institutions are dedicated to looking out for and serving one another. Nowhere is that more evident than in senior centers and nutrition programs across this great land. And from our perspective this month and next and every one to follow, that is something worth celebrating.