Our Declaration of Equality and Interdependence

As July 4th approached, I’d been thinking a lot about what it means to be a United States citizen, especially in light of our escalating COVID cases, the Black Lives Matter protests and the culture wars that have erupted over mask wearing and stay at home recommendations.  Our hyper-individualism appears to be a factor in exponentially escalating our COVID curve rather than flattening it. I wondered if the principles of independence and personal liberty our democracy was founded on were too limiting and missed addressing the collective as many other democracies do.

Then I had a civics lesson last week that I am not sure is being taught in school. Most of us educated in the U.S., as well as those seeking citizenship, are very familiar with the following Declaration of Independence passage

We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, LIberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.

That’s where the document starts, but where it ends illustrates a significant part we have not been paying enough attention to. I became aware of this while reading Katherine Collins’ Honeybee Capital Foundation blog  where she offers evidence that our founding fathers pledged interdependence with one another as well. The last line of the document reads:

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

The Declaration first lays out the principle of equality of all, then our individual rights, and concludes with our commitment to one another, thus including both independence and interdependence.

Two hundred and forty four years later it’s time to live up to ALL of what our country was actually founded on, not only on what we cherry pick to match our beliefs. Individually and collectively, let’s revisit our country’s founding principles, finding ways to honor equality, personal rights and our interdependence. Many of the challenges we are facing as a country could be healed if we truly lived from that place. Going forward, I am calling this document what it really is – The Declaration of Equality, Independence and Interdependence.

The images that accompany my blog posts are Soul Collage® cards. Some I make with specific intentions in mind and some I make intuitively and then discover their meaning. When I created this one it seemed to be about children heading unaware into their future ablaze from climate change. I now see that future including all the pandemics we are facing- climate change, COVID, racial inequality and injustice, economic challenges, culture wars. The eagle represents our founding fathers telling us to honor the pledge they made to one another when they founded this country and expected us to carry on.

Walking unaware into the future card by Jane Norton

In declaring independence, we were really declaring interdependence.

Katherine Collins, The Honeybee Capital Foundation

  • what comes to mind when you reflect on the “pledge to each other’ line in the Declaration of independence?
  • what can you imagine would be different in the U.S. or your life if we lived and governed by all the principles in the Declaration?
  • how do independence and interdependence show up in your life and how do you balance the two?

for a simple practice of recognizing your interdependence, the next time you sit down to a meal, think about and send thanks to all the people involved in getting that food onto your plate- the growers, harvesters, packers, shippers, stockers and cooks. And if you grew it yourself and did all the work, that’s really great. Then think of another situation where you are dependent on a network of people.


Katherine Collins is founder of Honeybee Capital Foundation and author of The Nature of Investing: Resilient Investment Strategies through Biomimicry. She has developed a regenerative investment approach using nature’s operating principles that ensures investments are beneficial to our communities and our planet.

Applying these principles to the way we govern could be our next revolutionary act!