Changing Independence Day to Interdependence Day: A Buckminster Fuller Vision

07/03/2012 04:56 pm ET | Updated Sep 02, 2012
  • L. Steven Sieden World renowned speaker and expert sharing Buckminster Fuller's legacy, vision and wisdom. Author, "A Fuller View" and "Buckminster Fuller's Universe."

"If the success or failure of this planet and of human beings depended on how I am and what I do; how would I be, what would I do?" -- Buckminster Fuller

As we in the U.S. celebrate Independence Day with picnics and fireworks, we might consider exactly what we are independent from. Being an independent nation made perfect sense centuries ago, and it was a valid idea just a few decades ago.

Today, however, we humans have morphed into a global interdependent species who are aware of our connections. Americans are no longer able to be independent from others whether we judge them to be enemies or friends. And our instantaneous digital communications make that fact even more evident on a daily basis.

You may be reading this post in Sri Lanka, Rio or LA. It may be midnight or noon. You may be in an office or at the beach. The possibilities are endless, yet we share this connection. And we can't avoid the reality that we are exceedingly interdependent and becoming even more so every day.

I need you as much as you need me, but this was not always the case. And many of us continue clinging to the belief that we are "rugged individualists," a false reality particularly evident in America. We think we can stand up on our own and that we are the sole individuals who have to "just do it" if anything is going to get done properly.

Bucky Fuller was one of the first people to recognize and speak about the basic physical interconnection of all people. He constantly reminded us that we humans on board the planet he named Spaceship Earth are all in this together, and that we've reached a period in history in which it's everybody or nobody. Yet, he also ardently championed individual initiative as the best way to make changes in our system.

In 1927, he first recognized the global nature of our problems and began his individual campaign for the success of all life. Bucky constantly preached about the power of one individual taking action because he realized that only individual humans can think and act. No nation, corporation, or other institution can do these two things, and he applied Nature's Generalized Principles to those two activities to consciously create a successful life that made a difference. John Denver even wrote a song about Bucky's efforts. "What One Man Can Do" was debuted by Denver as part of Bucky's 80th birthday celebration in 1975.

Despite his insistence that only individuals can make a difference, Bucky did not do it alone. When he came up with an idea for an initiative or solution such as the Geodesic Dome or the Dymaxion Vehicle, he shifted from a solo innovator to massive inclusion of as many others as possible. Because his initiatives and solutions required involvement, Bucky was always "recruiting."

He wasn't seeking converts or followers or espousing one way over another. He also did not advocate for one country, locale or group over another. Instead, he shared his ideas on as broad a platform as possible and allowed others to support the innovations he initiated.

For Bucky, the best outcome was when others adopted his ideas as their own. Then, that idea or solution could grow without him, and he was free to move on to yet another idea and initiative. And that's how he achieved so much in one short lifetime of 88 years.

Bucky realized that the more people who were involved with and felt ownership of a project, the more successful the new concept would be. Instead of holding tight to his ideas and initiatives, he was more than willing to give them away. Two of the critical aspects in this successful approach were inclusion and gratitudeas reflected in the following quote by Bucky:

"I don't have any favorite places or people. I love the whole show. A large number of beautiful people have taught me a great deal, and I am deeply indebted to them for their support."

So, perhaps after we're done with all the flag waving and chanting "we're number one," we might begin to consider what's best for our neighbors -- be they down the block or on the other side of the world. Then, we may have a chance to shift our perspective from nationalistic exclusion and independence to universal inclusion and interdependence, thereby beginning to manifest Bucky's vision of "a world that works for everyone."