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Happy Interdependence Day!

Becoming a parent is the biggest commitment you can make--not just to another person but to the whole world. Having a child compels you to care on a new level about the world and the future.


July's Middle Path Mother post comes a day early, in celebration of U.S. independence and the freedoms, privileges, and powers it has given us.

Paradoxically, no independence can ever be gained or sustained without strong networks of support. The United States could not exist in its present form without sustained, active democracy. Each new generation must learn, grow, participate, and adapt to an ever-changing, interdependent world. That is why each Independence Day, I am mindful, grateful, and respectful of interdependence.

Having a child makes me worry about the world and the future like never before, but it also gives me a powerful sense of hope as I watch how each generation brings more compassion, intelligence, and creativity than those before. I have faith that like a good scout troop, my daughter's generation will leave our world a better place than when they entered it. But I also want to be a part of progress and help develop my child's abilities to transform and recreate the earth she will inherit.

My husband and I, who both went through that liberal arts college Buddhist phase, like to practice "right livelihood" by working for organizations that improve our community. My husband sells and repairs bicycles, and I work for a volunteer-driven nonprofit (a church that just threw rainbow balloons into the air to celebrate with families impacted by the repeal of DOMA) and a network that advocates for families, the poor, and nature (particularly our world's largest body of fresh water, the Great Lakes). It feels good to support solutions to our generation's challenges, even in small ways.

If you also feel the urge to join the creation of a better world for your children, there are many fun and rewarding ways to share your gifts of money, time, or talent. If you're a hands-on type, you can find a local charity, advocacy group, or place of worship that provides outreach. Or you can connect with a national or international campaign to support a child, plant a tree, stand up for equality and children's rights, or protect your community's natural resources and quality of life. Some good ones are:

Big Brothers, Big Sisters (bbbs.org)
SisterSong (sistersong.net)
Earth Day Network's Canopy Project (earthday.org/campaign/canopy-project)
Sierra Club (sierraclub.org)
Action Against Hunger (actionagainsthunger.org)

What do you love most about being an American, and how do you support the interdependent web that upholds your values? Shout out your experiences and good ideas in the comments! And have a happy, joyful summer.

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