The Truth of Dependence
We don’t accomplish anything in this world alone… and whatever happens is the result of the whole tapestry of one’s life and all the weavings of individual threads form one to another that creates something.
– Sandra Day O’Connor
Independence is generally defined as ‘fact of not depending on others or another, self-support and self-government.’ The truth of dependence supports the fallacy of independence. The fallacy of independence is the fact that everybody is dependent upon the hands of others in multiple ways. More basic than our dependence upon the hands of others is our dependence upon the water we drink, the food we eat, the air we breath and the natural resources of our environment, which itself, and of which we are all included, is a complex web of interdependence we call Life. The only way independence is accurate is when spelled ‘in-dependence.’ A more apt term is ‘interdependence.’
Let us look at the ways in which we are dependent upon others. As you wake up in the morning, consider that the bed on which you slept, the sheets which wrapped you in slumber, were made and put to market by the hands of others. You did not make the bed or sheets yourself, and even if you did, you were dependent upon the natural resources of your environment. The car you drove, or the bus you rode in, to purchase the bed and sheets, is available to you only by the hands of others. The food that fills your refrigerator and cupboards, is cooked on a stove and placed on a plate in front of you, is brought to you by the hands of many others. You did not grow the food, package it or deliver it. Others did. You are dependent upon the hands of others.
The house, or apartment, or hotel, or dorm, or shack, in which you live, is not your doing. It is the doing of others, the hands of others. All the furnishings which inhabit the house, in all the rooms, the chairs, tables, clothing, utensils, tools….all of it, is available to you from the hands of others. The treatment of illness is often in the hands of others; education is by the hands of others. Economic and political policies, even in a democratic nation, is in the hands of others. We are all dependent upon the hands of others for just about everything. And, others are dependent upon you, if for nothing else than to consume their products and services. We are also dependent upon the words of others. The language we use, our thought process and decision making, is dependent upon the culture in which we are born and raised. And, that culture is dependent upon its citizenry.
Rugged individuals, entrepreneurs and titans of industry all often claim to have ‘done it on their own.’ But, on their own means to have utilized in ways both fair and unscrupulous, the hands, and words, of others, to achieve their ends. Without roads and bridges, cars and planes, telephones and computers, and most all of social infrastructure, to which everybody is dependent, nobody can accomplish anything on their own. All accomplishment is collaborative. We are all inter-dependent. What is typically considered as independence is an illusory layer of Life and better represented with more reality as ‘sovereign.’ A sovereign is a ruler, of their own individual domain. As ruler, a sovereign operates within a self-governed set of parameters conducive to well-being. Some sovereigns are concerned only with short-sighted well-being while others encompass a larger range and scope.
A sovereign individual is conscious of the collaborative nature of interdependent Life. A sovereign is, in a sense, consciously dependent or, if you will, co-dependent. Unfortunately, the term co-dependent has become associated with dysfunctional dynamics of a dyadic relationship. That is, a couple supports each other’s dysfunctional behaviors which, though dysfunctional, provide some benefits. A couple who supports each other’s functional behaviors, and do so consciously, are consciously dependent which can be termed in a more positive light as mutual dependence. Mutual dependence is symbiotic. Symbiotic, as a term, is of Greek origin and means, in English: “a living together,” The everyday meaning is: “union of two different organisms based on mutual benefit.” Symbiosis means I need you and you need me, I depend upon you and you depend upon me. Alone is our demise; together we thrive.
Consider a slight shift in your use of language such that the term ‘independent’ is replaced with ‘sovereign.’ You are not an independent person, you are a sovereign individual. An independent nation, like an independent person, is dependent upon many factors. A sovereign nation, like a sovereign individual, is conscious of that dependence, respects it, and collaborates with others for the benefit of all involved. When collective sovereignty exerts narrow, short-sighted power, it becomes tyranny and known in esoteric circles as ‘black magic;’ it becomes the basis of wide spread corruption. When that same collective sovereignty is fueled by broad, long-range vision, it is known as ‘white magic;’ it becomes the basis of wide spread thriving and well-being. Working together as a collection of sovereign individuals who understand and contribute to collective mutual interdependence, known as ‘coherence,’ is so much more conducive to elevated quality of life for all than is the notion of independence. Embrace the truth of dependence, the natural law of interdependence, not as a limitation or a bondage, but as something elevating, enriching and uplifting for all.
The core idea that underlies all of our democratic states, the core political idea, is this idea that it’s not that one person is the sovereign; it’s that all of the people are sovereign.
– Noah Feldman
In-Dependence and Meta Relationships