“Nature has never read the Declaration of Independence. It continues to make us unequal.” Will Durant
July is the month when Americans celebrate Independence Day by wasting money, blowing off explosives, and generally bragging about our independent superiority. However, once the 4th passes by, we rather unceremoniously and unconsciously sink back into our daily lives of interdependence, while continuing to operate under the pretense that Americans in particular are uniquely individual and independent.
Granted, individuality is one aspect of our human lives, but to pretend that humans, who rely upon some of the most intimate and complex communal behaviors of all species for survival, is populated by independent autonomous individuals with no need for community support and interaction is to deny the truth of how we live, thrive, and reproduce. While different societies and cultures vacillate between collective and individual values and behaviors, it is important to acknowledge that in either scenario leaders cannot exist without the masses. While it is tempting to prop up our selected leaders, it is equally important to emphasize that each individual is just as necessary in our community and none should be considered less than any other, regardless of education, skills, or even the level of their contribution to the group.
All too often, the bulk of the population is considered dispensable and of insignificant value to the whole. Of course, it is typically the leaders and their biased cohorts that are making this determination, and when portions of the population disagree, their patriotism and loyalty falls under question for simply daring to pose such queries. While no two persons can ever be measured to be perfectly equal, and while societies and cultures as a whole decide which particular skills and talents are deemed to be of greater value, the hard and unpolished truth is that even those least able to directly contribute to the group should not be considered of such minimal value as to be ejected from the safety and comfort of the group. Even the most independent person would wilt without the support and company of his or her community.
Of course, subgroups within a culture tend to be more inclined to support those members who are least capable of contributing to the greater group. A prime example of this would be infants and children within families. Beyond offering a degree of intangible pleasure and soliciting an inexplicable rush of love, children, toddlers, and infants are admittedly quite useless to society. Of course, we imbue in them the responsibility of becoming contributing members of a future society, but how often do we see the actualization of these imagined and expected contributions down the road of time?
In a world where money is presumed to conquer all, if we do not become money-generating machines that contribute to the well-being of the economy, then we are considered to be living, walking wastes of space and time. Sadly, innocent babies and exuberant kids must shed their innocence and exuberance in order to join the band of laborers who devote the bulk of their waking hours scraping for sufficient funds to pay their own way in this greedy, grasping world. While this rule may not apply completely across the board, it unfortunately applies to most of use. The greater misfortune is that we are being educated to not question or challenge this ridiculous premise; in fact, the farther behind we are in the game of accumulating money (i.e., the lower on the earnings totem pole), the less time we are granted to ruminate about our situation and condition.
Perhaps the greatest absurdity of all is that our future is too often forged by the conditions of our birth. Were we born in a rich country, and into a moneyed family who is privileged to bypass the financial slavery imposed upon the masses? Chances are very low that you will enter the world blessed with such a position.
Regardless of your position at birth, every human being is endowed with their own mind, which they may own and control, or conversely may surrender to others who claim the right to own and control your mind and how you think. The truth of the matter is that, regardless of our status within our society and its many subgroups, we can choose to be happy even though we have been taught that happiness is an exquisite state that requires financial performance and material acquisitions to be properly and permanently triggered. Considering the deepening divide between the haves and the have-nots, substantially more than 50% of the public should be unhappy, if not outright miserable, due to their economic status.
Once you stop playing the game of earned happiness and satisfaction, you can find fulfillment simply be being alive instead of through your inventory of material collections and nebulous achievements. Most importantly, you can reverse the brainwashing we all endure on a daily basis and know that no matter how much or how little you own, it does not have to affect your state of mind and being. Some of the greatest pleasures we can have is being part and parcel of your own communities without fretting over the importance or value of your perceived contributions.
Interdependence is neither a weakness or a fault. As stated before, all members come together to create the society in which they live. While some will lay claim to being independent, this is a shallow and surface pronouncement. The truth is that we are individuals but also part of the collective whole. Pretending to be otherwise is to continue the feeble fantasy of independence. Isn’t it time to start celebrating and honoring Interdependence Day?