The world is in love with independence. It sounds alluring. Imagine being on your own without the need or reliance of others. Life done your way, in your time, at your disposal. Many would call this success; perfection even.
Whether it’s riches, free thought or just the ‘right’ to do as you please, the people that also live in the world are in love with independence. We’ve fought wars for it, broken hearts for it and sold our worldly possessions for it.
It’s an addiction to chasing the long tailed dream of being the boss of our own lives; being free.
Except, it’s not what we want or need. If we weren’t needed – depended upon – we wouldn’t have relationships, jobs or purpose. Equally, we need others and things in life to sustain us so it’s a flawed mentality.
I laugh when people say how much they dislike ‘needy people’ as if they’re exemplary pillars of autonomy. The same people who feel offended when not consulted about something in life or say they can’t complete their work until that guy does his job.
Like with most theories, we tend to associate the other end of the spectrum as the polar opposite. If independence is good then dependence must be bad. We rarely look to the middle despite that’s where most of us live. The bell curve whether you love or hate it, was theorised for a reason.
So what lies in the middle? Well, it’s interdependence.
It’s not complete independence but it’s also not complete dependence. It’s a marriage between the two and it’s the actual world we live in. It’s the reliance of two or more people/things to each other, constantly moving. Unfortunately, we’ve marketed the bejesus out of being ‘independent’ and so we move forth into the world believing that is a hindrance and that we must achieve it at any cost.
So, you make millions of dollars and by these rules, you’re now financially ‘independent’. But in reality, you’re not. Your money is only worth what your country’s (and the world’s) currency is worth, something you can’t control. You’re not independent of the tax you pay, the bills you have to accumulate and the world you want to spend your money in.
Whether you’re a business, a person, a consumer, an employee etcetera, you can’t do this life on your own. Even with a massive wallet and an ego to boot.
I mean, I suppose you could become independent if you lived on your own island without resources, friends, utilities and infrastructure but oh wait, that’s dependent on nature. Then there’s pirates. Do you have an army? You’d probably need to make your own guns too. Oh damn.
We need the gas company, the plumber, the mechanic and the doctor. They need us too. Economies right now are rising and falling because of the community, not in spite of it. We’re an interdependent species. It’s why we built tribes, societies and cultures. If we achieved true independence, we’d die of loneliness, conflict and ironically, poverty.
Sure, complete dependence isn’t ideal by any stretch of the imagination but by the same token, what if we changed the aim away from being complete social silos? What if we accepted that life is interdependent? Rather than fighting this concept in our head, why not just embrace the fact we need each other?
It doesn’t mean we need to become less enterprising; in fact would be the opposite. We need to be mindful of our place in the world. The whole world. The one that also includes animals and plants and the like.
We must recognise that there is cause and effect to our existence and that despite our adult beliefs, once upon a time we needed someone to feed and bathe us – and may do again one day. Interdependence has been kind to us; don’t belittle it so much. Some people, countries and cultures aren’t so fortunate to have the equality we enjoy.
It sounds noble and heroic to take the world by storm on your own. It’s easy to envy Lady Gaga and other celebrities as superstars. Just realise that she doesn’t move all those costumes, setup those stages, produce those tracks and pay the bills herself. Sure she may be the singer, but she’s just playing her part. Mark Zuckerberg may have started Facebook on his own, but even from day two he relied on his room mates, the equipment and most of all – you and me – for his success.
Don’t lose sight of the fact that you’re human and you need others in order to live and breathe in this world. We’ve all be taught to fight for the corner office and to chase the things you want in life because that’s what school and the media says to do. As someone wise told me, “be careful of who you step on whilst climbing to the top as they will most likely shit on you on the way down.”
If you want to truly ‘change the world’, then you have to think and act interdependently. You need to be comfortable needing someone and to have them need you. After all, if it’s all just for your independence, why would anyone want to help you?