“When Independence Day became Interdependence Day”
Thanks to COVID-19 virus, July 4th in America may have been celebrated as Interdependence Day.
In a nation that prizes an individual’s independence, this year – like no other -- we depend on each
other to wear a mask, keep an appropriate distance, and wash our hands. For many, this is a matter
of life and death.
Interdependence is a way of life at the Institute for Spirituality and Health (ISH). We have a small
staff of eight and each person is dependent on the other members to accomplish our tasks. We
cannot accomplish our mission alone. We need each other.
Our essential interdependence goes beyond our staff, to include many other organizations with
which we collaborate -- organizations like Houston Methodist, Texas Children’s Hospital, members
of the Texas Medical Center, many non-profit organizations, and inter-faith organizations including
congregants of churches, synagogues, mosques, and temples.
In 2017, our need for interdependence became a central need when Hurricane Harvey struck our
region. We realized we needed to unite with other non-profit organizations to address the
devastation that flooding had brought to tens of thousands in our region.
The result was creation of the Greater Houston Healing Collaborative (GHHC) funded by grants from
the Greater Houston Community Foundation, the Rotary Clubs of Houston, and later, a gift from the
American Red Cross.
The funding allowed us to bring the Center for Mind Body Medicine in Washington, D.C. to train
over 120 individuals in self-care Mind-Body skills they could teach to those who had experienced
loss of home and employment because of the flood.
Initially, the collaborate included the Institute for Spirituality and Health, the Menninger Clinic,
Houston-Galveston Institute, the Jung Center, The Center for Mind Body Health, Compassionate
Houston, and Healing Circles Houston. The impact has been far greater than any of our
organizations could have accomplished alone.
Over 12,000 people have received training in self-care practices that enable them to cope with the
anxiety and mental stress that a major disaster has brought to their household. And, today our
same team of facilitators are holding classes for individuals affected by the coronavirus.
This July 4th, a clarion call affirmed our independence and also our interdependence. We will
continue to celebrate these things by wearing masks, washing our hands, and keeping our distance
to protect the health of others. We need each other and perhaps, as never before, we value our
interdependence in this nation and with the people of all the nations on this planet.
John K. Graham, MD, DMin
President & CEO
Institute for Spirituality and Health