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Monday, July 2, 2012

Declaration of Interdependence: Durant's resolve

Will Durant (with students)
By 1944, Will Durant was already well known as the author who popularized philosophy.  It therefore came as no surprise that he was asked by interfaith leaders Meyer David and Christian Richards to help organize a morality movement.  A decade before the start of the Civil Rights Movement, Durant prophetically
suggested that they specifically focus upon racial intolerance. 

The result was the 1945 Declaration of Interdependence.  In his autobiography, Durant offered this explanation:  Just as independence has been the motto of states and individuals
since 1750, so the motto of the coming generations should be
interdependence.  And just as no state can now survive by its
own unaided power, so no democracy can long endure without
recognizing and encouraging the interdependence of the racial
and religious groups composing it.  This Declaration was rolled
out with much fanfare at a Hollywood event.  Author Thomas Mann and actress Bette Davis were two of the key speakers.

The Declaration of Interdependence begins with an affirmation of these “evident truths”:  “diverse groups, institutions, and ideas are stimulating factors in the development of man…  to promote harmony in diversity is a responsible task of religion and statesmanship…  by the testimony of history intolerance is the door to violence, brutality and dictatorship...   the realization of human interdependence and solidarity is the best guard of civilization.”

It then continues with these three resolutions:  “to uphold and promote human fellowship through mutual consideration and respect…   to champion human dignity and diversity, and to safeguard these without distinction of race or color or creed…  to strive in concert with others to discourage all animosities arising from these differences and to unite all groups in the fair play of civilized life.”  It concludes with the reminder that we are “children of the same Divine Father.”

As is the case with the Declaration of Independence (which referred to “the merciless Indian Savages”), this Declaration is a product of its historical context (for example, mention of the Divine is only paired with “Father”).  Nevertheless, it seems to pick up where the first Declaration (which spent most of its text railing against the King of Great Britain) left off.  This second Declaration offers a viable “game plan” for responsibly handling the freedom which the first one proclaimed.


Copyright July 2, 2012 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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