Independence vs. Dependence
“I believe independence is a sign of maturity, but the term no longer means quite what it did to the pioneers … We depend on others to provide us with virtually every basic necessity in life that our pioneer forefathers obtained for themselves.”
Someone once told me, “true independence does not exist. Seek a healthy interdependence on a spectrum between independence and dependence.” Can this be accomplished in a complex, modern world? This thought-provoking article from Rural Revolution discusses the issue.
Being independent is terribly hard work. In the past, independence meant being able to build your own home, grow your own food, medicate yourself, weave cloth, deliver babies, and all the other things a pioneer or settler was often forced to deal with.
Today few people are called upon to do any of those things. We have become a dependent and specialized society, which has made our lives immeasurably easier in many respects.
We depend on others to build our homes. Rather than cut down logs, let them cure, and build a rough log cabin from the ground up, we go deeply into debt and buy a 3000-square foot home with granite countertops and walk-in closets.
We depend on others for food. Rather than grow our own wheat and milk our own cow, we trot down to the grocery store where we drop a wad of cash at the deli for handy pre-packaged and prepared foods to make our busy lives easier.
We depend on others to medicate us. What I mean by this is, we know there are cures for nearly everything (or so it sometimes seems) so we don’t take care of our bodies as we should. We don’t exercise, we’re overweight (guilty!), we indulge in vices that can kill us (smoking, drinking, drugs).
We depend on others to provide us with virtually every basic necessity in life that our pioneer forefathers obtained for themselves.
Now I’m not saying all of this is necessarily a bad thing. Frankly I have no desire to shear sheep to weave cloth to cut and sew my own clothes. I’m wildly grateful that medical knowledge is as advanced as it is.
But coupled with these remarkable advancements is a remarkable inability to fend for ourselves under dire circumstances. Dependency has meant the critical and basic skills mankind has honed for thousands of years are virtually gone. Dependency means few, if any, people could ever be independent again.
The worst type of dependency is when people depend on the government for everything. People lose the ability to think, act, or do anything for themselves. These are the people who will suffer the most if there is a downfall in the economy, because this type of dependence fosters utter helplessness.
I believe independence is a sign of maturity, but the term no longer means quite what it did to the pioneers. Today, independence is the willingness to be obtain for oneself the basic necessities without asking mommy and daddy for a handout or trespassing on taxpayer programs. But this kind of independent I’ll-do-it-myself mindset is only the first part. Next comes the knowledge of how to obtain the truly basic necessities – food, water, shelter – if those things weren’t commercially available.
Something to think about.