The Myth of Independence

I read this post by Al Etmanski.  Al heads up Plan of Canada, which focuses on building natural networks of relationships around people.

In it, he talks about natural care and discusses the myths of indiviualism, independence and self-reliance. 

I’ve been thinking a lot about this recently because many involved in the lives of people with disabilities hold “independence” up as some sort of endgame solution.  Now, don’t get me wrong:  being as independent as possible is a great thing to strive for.  It’s even in Starfire’s mission statement, so that should tell you that I’m onboard with the big “I.” 

And we all hold up our independence as a shining virtue.  Indeed it is one of the founding principles of our country!  But are we really “independent?”

When I think about the people in my life that I rely on – Bridget, my parents, my friends, my co-workers, my mentors, and on and on and on –  When I think about those people, I start to realize that not only am I waaaaayyyy less “independent” than I ever imagined…I’m completely dependent on them. 

I like to think about “interdependence” instead.  We are all interdependent on each other to some degree.  We are connected:  I rely on my neighbors to keep the loud partying to a minimum at night,  I rely on my wife to love me and put up with my weird habits, and we all rely on Kevin Bacon to relate us to each other.