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Election Day Is a Perfect Time to Think About Our Interdependence


The Fourth of July is about our Declaration of Independence from England 236 years ago, so what if Election Day, on November 6, could be a Declaration of Interdependence: to each other, to our country, to the world and us as a species? While November 6 is our national election, all issues are interdependent and ultimately affect so many things both here and around the world.
Last year, on the Fourth of July, 2011, we posted a one-page Declaration of Interdependence online, and invited people from around the world to send us videos of themselves reading it and artwork inspired from the words. This is the four-minute film that unfolded:
This film was our first experiment in what we call “cloud filmmaking.” We had no idea how many entries we’d receive and from where. The responses blew us away. When it first premiered, as the lights came up, everyone in the theater had spontaneously linked their fingers. We then invited the world to help us translate this film, this message. Within weeks, it had been volunteer translated into 65 languages. Then we added another important element to cloud filmmaking: giving back. We let people and organizations know that we would make free customized versions of the film for any nonprofit working to make the world better. In the last year we have made 100 free, customized versions of this film, replacing our call to action at the end with theirs.
Election Day seems like a perfect time to rethink what exactly we are declaring. The ability to vote on the things we care about. The ability for women to vote. For us to have a black president. For us to disagree. For us to celebrate that this experiment called democracy created hundreds of years ago is working.
Voting is such deliberate act, a statement saying “this is who I am and what I believe in.” And we are clearly living in a new era of seeing connections in new ways with this extension of us we have created called the internet. As we become more connected, we’ll be able to see the cause and effect of our actions in real time. What we buy, eat, donate and throw away. We’ve just started to unlock and share information about the 100 trillion things we’ve made in this world. Once we understand the supply chains and see the cause and effect of our actions in real time, we’ll be more consciousness and mindful of our behavior. We are living in a day where our connections outward to our family, our friends, our work, our common interests with people who live very far away, has created a complex, constantly growing network of links that only mirrors what is inherently true biologically. That everything is interdependent.
Imagine, if everyone was thinking interdependently, the ripple effect would change the world.
In my feature documentary, Connected, we look back in history from the Big Bang until today, examining the progression of both our desire to separate and our inherent connectedness. Throughout the past 10,000 years, we’ve attempted to make sense of our world by breaking it down into smaller and smaller pieces. We've declared independence, we’ve dissected, looked at things in smaller and smaller pieces, and specialized in our knowledge. This reductionist approach has been extremely successful: It brought us the clock, calculus, electricity, the Theory of Relativity. “Divide and Conquer” has been our primary strategy for centuries.
But now it’s time to focus on how to put things together.
A Declaration of Interdependence was the first film in our series “Let it Ripple: Mobile Films for Global Change." We just released our second cloud film, Engage, and are about release our third cloud film and accompanying TED Book: Brain Power: From Neurons to Networks, on November 8 at the California Academy of Sciences and simultaneously online. You can find out more or how to get a free customized version for your organization at
Holidays need traditions. This post is part of a series imagining rituals we could create around "Voting Day" as a national holiday. Sign up your organization or encourage your company to join at\n

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