Dependence, Independence, Interdepence
June 24, 2014
July 5, 2011
Dependence, Independence, Interdependence
I spent some time yesterday thinking about the many men and women who, throughout the history of the United States, have worked in various ways to assure our independence and freedom. Mostly I thought about my relatives and close friends who have served in the military. My father has shared more in the past few years about his time in WWII and what that meant to him. I have been grateful for his service and his sharing.
Independence is always flanked by the other two stages mentioned in the title above: dependence and interdependence. All of these are psychological and spiritual stages of development. They are also stages of growth in any system. That includes marriage, family, institutions, cultures, nations and global systems.
Dependency, obviously, is the time in our growth when we depend on others to nurture and support us. Children are the purest example of being dependent, but sometimes dependency continues well in to adulthood. When people do not learn to support themselves and think for themselves, they are dependent in a skewed and usually unhelpful way.
We see the beginnings of the natural drive for independence in children as young as two. Pushing away, wanting to be in charge of the self, not wanting to be told what to do or think or say. This is a natural process. Of course, adolescents are the best symbols of the desire for independence. I want to be in charge of me. You can’t tell me what to think or feel. Anything you say I will push against, even if it is a good idea. People and systems who are wholly involved in this stage of independence are fearful of the influence of others. They clutch their hard won independence was a death grip.
The higher stage of development is interdependence. In this stage of development, we realize that to continue to evolve, we must allow ourselves to need each other. I have something to offer you that you don’t have and you have something I don’t have. I have ideas that are worth considering, and so do you. Interdependence requires a higher stage of intellectual, spiritual and emotional development. We are no longer guarding our own stance and territory. We are open to hearing, learning, and trying new things. Our tender egos have grown up and we are not attached to seeing ourselves only through our own eyes or through the eyes of those who think just like we do. We come to believe that we can always learn new ways and new things, always consider the perception of someone else, and always surrender egoic needs for a greater good.
This last stage is not easy. In our world today, however, reaching this last stage may be the only way. This is true if we want to save our marriages, our children, our churches, our political systems, our educational systems, our medical institutions, our health care system, and our economic system. We can no longer afford to be stuck in the stage of independence, afraid of the influence of others. We must learn to open our minds and our hearts wide and take the risk of becoming interdependent.
Eighty years from now, I hope my child will be grateful that I took the risk and showed her the way of interdependence.
Next week I will be taking a little break so there won’t be a blog entry. Have a wonderful week.
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