Independence is a requirement for leading your own life. How independent are you?
How can you make decisions if every action you take has to be filtered through other people first? Without independence, you can’t be the captain of your life. You must be satisfied scrubbing the decks while someone else sets the direction you’re to follow.
Independence doesn’t mean you do not need other people. Most people wouldn’t last a year stranded on an island without help from anybody. Independence means that you add at least as much value back as you take from every transaction. You don’t leave a permanent debt between you and another person.
Debt is Dependency
When you build a debt with another person, you lose your independence. If you require another person to support you, that person has power over you. They can withdraw their funding based on your actions, effectively controlling your life. Even if they are benevolent, they may unconsciously use their power to influence your decisions.
If your transactions are fair, you retain your independence. I’m not dependent on a grocery store because, if they decide not to feed me, I can take my money elsewhere. Since it is an equal trade, there is no imbalance of power.
Independence is More Than Just Money
The debt that dependency creates doesn’t just have to be in finances. You can be completely financially independent, but entirely socially and intellectually dependent on other people.
Financial independence is important.
Requiring money from other people to live isn’t ideal. Even if you are dependent on a spouse, family member or the government for an income, it shouldn’t become a permanent situation.
If everyone became financially dependent on another person, the economy would collapse. Independence isn’t just a personal virtue, it’s a moral virtue. Avoiding debts with other people makes you in control over your own life. Independence also makes you a creator instead of a user. By putting back at least as much as they are taking, independent people ensure the world stays in balance.
Financial independence, and the consequences of financial dependence are easy to understand. It doesn’t take a leap of thinking to realize that if everyone drains more money than they create, the world will collapse.
Social and intellectual independence are harder to see. But, I believe that they are even more important than financial independence. If you are financially dependent, another person has control over your body. They can decide whether you eat or starve. If you are socially or intellectually dependent, another person has control over your mind and soul.
Money isn’t the only currency people use. Sure, it’s the only kind you carry around in your wallet, but it is only one form of transactions. Social currency is another method of transactions. It is the currency of relationships, friendships, loyalty and service to other people.
Just as you can be financially dependent, you can be socially dependent. This means you are emotionally dependent on the opinions of the people around you. You care what other people think of you. Worse, you use their whims and biases as a foundation for making decisions on how to live your life.
Someone who is socially dependent can never be authentic. Instead they must constantly ask themselves whether what they are doing is popular or fashionable. I’m sure we both know people who fit this model. They are the people who care more about being liked than being themselves.
Independence here means the same thing it does with finances. It doesn’t mean you don’t need people and are happy living alone. It simply means that the relationship value you contribute outwards at least equals the value you take away. You aren’t dependent on the opinions of other people because you can just as easily make new friends.
A person who has complete social independence feels free to leave friends and relationships that demand too high a price.
Intellectual independence is the most important form of independence. While it might not be easy, you can move from a position of social and financial dependence to one of independence. As long as you can make decisions for yourself, you can move closer towards complete independence.
Intellectual dependence happens when you stop thinking for yourself.
Intellectual independence means you are willing to experiment, explore and leave no stone unturned in the search for understanding. You don’t avoid ideas that don’t fit neatly into your worldview, you embrace them. You think through ideas yourself instead of blindly accepting pre-digested facts from other people.
Like all forms of independence, intellectual independence is both a personal and a moral question.
Independence is a Personal Virtue.
When you have independence, I believe the next step is to encourage the independence of others. Think your own thoughts, live your own life, and help others to do the same.
Good morning and a wonderful Tuesday to you. Go make it work!
Love Always… M.