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Benjamin R. Barber

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Interdependence Day 2011 on the 10th Anniversary of 9/11

Posted: 09/12/11 10:44 AM ET

Today is Interdependence Day: the day after September 11, when, ten years ago, brutal terrorists attacked the United States of America as they have attacked so many other people around the world before and since.

This year, fittingly, we are celebrating Interdependence Day in New York City at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, at Lincoln Center (Sunday) and 3LD Art & Technology Center (Monday) as part of the memorial weekend looking back on the horrific events of 9/11. We are looking not just back, but also forward. Looking not just at how the brute realities of an interdependent world -- terrorism, climate change, epidemic disease, crime, weapons of mass destruction, anarchic markets in labor and capital -- impact and stymie old fashioned sovereign nations states; but also at how new transnational and cross border civic and cultural and political institutions can help us meet the challenges.

In a world of weapons without borders and diseases without borders and warming without borders and terrorism without borders, we must seek to develop citizens without borders, democracy without borders, and justice without borders. Cities need not wait for states to forge cooperative links. The web is not just a social and commercial tool but a potent civic and democratic tool. Interdependence is not just a way of organizing but a way of thinking - seeing the connections, exploiting the links, promoting the relationships across borders, professions, peoples, and generations.

Nine years ago in Philadelphia, a small group met to signal the passage from independence as liberty's traditional guarantor, to interdependence as liberty's new guarantor. Since then, in Rome, Paris, Casablanca, Mexico City, Brussels, Istanbul, and last year Berlin, we have convened in a global city with religious, cultural and civic leaders -- global celebrities and young interdependent pioneers alike. And we have sought solutions to terrorism, inequality and poverty that go beyond a war on terrorism or singular sovereign acts by solitary nations.

For though our realities are stubbornly global, our political consciousness lags behind. Too often, it remains parochial, inward-looking, nationalistic and isolationist. When we do act globally it is often via military or economic force, rarely through cross-border civic and cultural collaboration. The Interdependence Movement works to transform how we think and act.

After eight years of annual forums, we are now ready for a year-round interdependence movement -- not in one city at a time, but across many cities and countries. Along with our New York events this year, we have convened meetings and concerts and happenings in dozens of cities and places from England's House of Lords to Belgium, Australia, Canada, Nepal and Germany.

At our interactive website www.InterdependenceMovement.org it is possible to join with other young people in civic actions; to read and sign our Declaration of Interdependence; to pledge support for interdependence; to share stories; and to plan common cross-border actions.

Near the beginning of his term, President Obama said "given our interdependence, any world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will inevitably fail. Our problems must be dealt with through partnership, our progress must be shared." Yet America today is as parochial and insular in its thinking as ever before and there are populist and reactionary political movements here and around the world dedicated to keeping it that way.

On this ninth Interdependence Day, September 12, 2011, we proclaim it as the aim of the Interdependence Movement as a network of "citizens without borders" to challenge this parochialism and promote cooperation across frontiers; to enlarge our thinking to embrace what connects us, and build on those connections to fix our global problems and heal our fractured world.

Yesterday. we brought together Howard Dean, Josh Fox, Carol Gilligan, Tavis Smiley, Cornel West and others to reflect on 9/11 and debate our way forward toward positive interdependence; I invite you to join us to continue the conversation at 3LD Art & Technology Center in person or watch live on the web later today!

(a version of this statement is being placed in the Congressional Record today by Congressman Dennis Kucinich)

 

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