It’s Time to Revive (and Update) the 1945 Declaration of Interdependence

In April of 1944, roughly a year and a half before World War II saw its end, two religious leaders, from the Jewish and Christian communities—Meyer David and Christian Richard, respectively—approached Will Durant, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author and philosopher, out of an urgent concern to “raise moral standards”; Durant suggested they place their focus on religious and racial tolerance.

I’ve been studying Durant lately (The Story of Philosophy is, though largely confined to the Western cannon, a delightful read), and, in my researching of his biographical history, I happened upon what he, David, and Richard, after their initial meeting, dubbed the “Declaration of INTERdependence” (capitalization theirs).

As I see the disheartening, and alarming, news of Brexit; the resurgence of atavistic nativism and nationalism globally; and, in my own country, the abject rejection of the underlying principles that have, post-war, enabled whatever social progress we’ve accomplished, I couldn’t help but feel that there’s never been a more appropriate time to resurface the document—albeit with slightly modernized language, accounting for contemporary understandings, and a full embrace, of diversity in gender, sexuality, and identity, along with historical complexity.

After its public unveiling, to great fanfare, at a Hollywood-studded event on March 22, 1945, the Declaration was entered into the United States Congressional Record. An edited version appears below (emphasis added).

Declaration of Interdependence

Human progress having reached higher levels through respect for the liberty and dignity of individuals, it has become desirable to re-affirm these evident truths:

  • That diversity of race, color, gender, sexual orientation, and creed is natural, and that diverse groups, institutions, and ideas are stimulating factors in the development of human civilization;
  • That to promote harmony in diversity is a responsible task of religion and statesmanship;
  • That since no individual can express the whole truth, it is essential to treat with understanding and good will those whose views differ from our own;
  • That by the testimony of history intolerance is the door to violence, brutality, and dictatorship; and
  • That the realization of human interdependence and solidarity is the best guard of civilization.

Therefore, we solemnly resolve, and invite everyone to join in united action,

  • To uphold and promote human fellowship through mutual consideration and respect;
  • To champion human dignity and decency, and to safeguard these without distinction of race, or color, or gender, or sexual orientation, 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.

Rooted in freedom, children each of the same origin, sharing everywhere a common human blood, we declare again that all human beings are kin, and that mutual tolerance and respect is the price of liberty.

How I wish this could be recognized, and revived, today.

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