the independence myth

The story of  independence/dependence is one of contention in my moneyless life.

I sit between competing worldviews and internal voices. Below are two pieces of writing created at different times in the last few months.

Does the truth lie somewhere in between?

 

‘Independence’:

I’m feeling bad. I have been too dependent on others for the last several weeks and it’s getting hard to keep the guilt at bay. I also notice I’m slipping – not being as careful in my consumption (of other people’s resources) as usual. I have not been using money, but I have also been living too well by the good graces of my friends and family. I’ve found a new home, but for now, while I wait for the final stars to align, I try to deal with these feelings of guilt.

I don’t know if it’s the right thing to do – talking so openly about my shortcomings – but I want to be authentic. This reliance on others is one of the tricky parts of doing what I’m doing.

Yes, I am helping people out. No, they don’t mind me being around and using their electricity, water and sharing in their food. I DO mind though.

I would do the same for anyone else myself, of course, but there’s something in this situation that troubles me. I claim to be living without money; therefore, I must take care not to transfer the ‘money’ issue onto others.

Can I resolve this inner turmoil? It’s human to doubt and feel guilt – to question oneself.

I read the words above and remember what is real. I remember why I am trying to do what I am trying to do. I am not getting it ‘right’ all the time – I am learning as I go. I am doing better than I was before. That needs to be enough for now.

 


 

‘Dependence’:

In our Western culture, my value is mostly derived from how I contribute financially. The erroneous idea, drummed into me all my life, that I must strive to be self contained, not ‘bludge’ off others, meet my own needs, is damaging to me, humanity as a whole and our beloved planet. 

I am meant to be reliant on others. Others are meant to be reliant on me. I am interdependent. We are all part of one big whole – dependent at all times on the beautiful web of life.

This false sense of independence we are taught to value in the West is supported by the use of money. Money gives the appearance of a kind of independence. It seems as though we can just go out and buy what we need and separate ourselves from any need to rely on others.

Money simply creates distance from the source of the things we consume, but we are still completely dependent on all the things that go into every product – the people who work to bring that thing to life and the planet for providing the necessary resources.

Money simply blinds us to the bigger picture of consumption.

For most of human existence we have lived collaboratively, in groups, helping one another out and caring – often without the use of money. 

This collaborative life is still running concurrently with our money-oriented lives. It exists on the periphery of ‘normal’ life. Our moneyless collaborations are sidelined, given barely a second thought, as we continue striving to achieve ‘independence’.

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14 thoughts on “the independence myth

    1. Thanks for that. All is reasonably well. Struggling with the dilemma in this post a bit right now because I have the flu and am staying at daughter’s place while I recover………

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  1. I think what you are doing is amazing and I swing between wanting life’s luxuries and trying to be self sufficient. I wish you well and a speedy recovery from illness x

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  2. Hi again Jo,
    I think that yes, western ideas of independence and dependence are barking up the wrong tree which is adding to your confusion.
    We are communal creatures and not meant to be alone so how do we resolve the dilemma of independence vs dependence.
    Try another concept.. interdependence.. we cannot grow enough food for a varied diet, alone or especially as a family so we rely on others to grow some things that we cannot. in exchange we supply something that they cannot. Now to the unfortunate western bit.. we use money instead of barter but.. our skills in providing something they cannot are used to earn that money. In your case your talking events are providing others with insight and education. Your presence is providing company and I am sure there is much more of worth that is not monetary, for which your friends are happy to exchange a little electricity and such.

    many blessings,
    hope to meet one day,

    Ralph

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    1. You’re spot on, Ralph. ‘Interdependence’ is the best word to describe the ‘natural’ way humans work together (in my opinion having lived this life and experienced it directly). Thanks for your input. Yes, maybe we’ll cross paths at some point. Cheers, Jo

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  3. Jo! how beautiful this post is. I Couldn’t agree more with you. It’s great work you r doing for the society.
    The idea that, because we live in a capitalist society the only way to grant our children a future is to seek for a huge sum of money is is superficially plausible, but actually wrong! Capitalism seek for efficiency, in other words, we could have the same profits selling more or using less RESOURCES and by IMPLICATION you are proving how much consumerism is separating us from a better society.
    Cheers!

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