Thoughts On Independence

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Tue Sep 19, 2023 · 972 words · 5 min
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Changing definitions

Independence has been a much sought after concept. I most certainly first heard the word "independence" in context of the Indian Independence Day, celebrated on 15th August every year. It signified an end of forced dependency of the land over a state situated multiple thousand miles away.

As I grew up, I started hearing this word more commonly in different contexts. It was revolting at first. I'm no English expert, but being an ardent reader since childhood, I could at the very least understand the importance of 'right vocabulary'. Synonyms as a concept is virtully blinding. If two words ever have the exact same meaning, they would be one word instead.

I grew up learning that individuality is important to claim value in a world where the masses blindly follow influencers, trends, ill advices and propaganda. Having my roots in a partially self reliant society, my understanding of "independence" leans at odds with the common interpretation I see on social media. [1]

These days, every time I read or hear the word "independence", I feel the urge to ask - "Independence from whom/what?".

Example - Financial independence

Take the example of financial independence. I see many people interpreting the talk of financial independence to be the gateway to living life by their own means with lesser regard to accomodating their partner's wishes. In that case, give a try at finding a better partner who falls in line with your philosophy.

Financial independence was never a means to 'stop using his/her money'. If at all, you need to label the ownership of money in a "loving and understanding" relationship, there are much more pressing issues to spend thoughts on, rather than your bank balance.

How do I see financial independence? It is to be free from the system which distances you from the first reason why you even earn. Nobody at their last breath ever wished that they worked five hours extra every week. But people do have regrets of not having spent enough time with their family. Financial independence gives you the freedom where you can reclaim your time from the system which pays you (i.e. work) and divert that time to the goal of your earnings (for me, the family). Its not just family for everyone - people like travelling or writing or whatever. Financial independence gives them the choice to pursue whatever their heart desires.

So, we must answer the question of "independence from whom/what?" if we hope to understand our own beliefs about independence.

Dependency is a human need

Society progressed and discourses moved from talks of nation to community to family and now to individual. As divisions increase and micro-societies are formed, people become increasingly weaker at their core - because absolute human independence is a myth. The more a person becomes independent of his culture or family, the more he/she becomes dependent on external entities - corporations for their paycheck, workplace for people to talk to, fast friends for their emotional requirements, capitalists for food, antidepressant for mental stability etc. Human needs can't be forever supressed and they will manifest sooner or later.

I know I must depend on someone or something. This body can't walk alone. I've seen many sunsets from the window of my old workplace this summer. A constant question regularly pressed me - why should I free myself from something that can't be gotten rid of? If I have to depend, I better start finding the right entities to depend on. Is it the company I worked for? Nope. One recession and you're fired. On one of the sunsets, I think it finally struck me:

We are not taught how to find the right entity to depend on.

Whether its for money or emotional needs or anything else - we aren't taught how to find the right entity to depend on. Our growing years are filled with elders remarking how nobody these days is trustworthy and money is the only thing that remains with us. Even with regards to money, we aren't told why we earn money. We become dependent on the gratification of seeing our bank balance climb up and forget the goals we set out to achieve.

As a species, we evolved learning how to depend on our family for majority of our needs and being gratified when they fulfil our needs. Finding a dependable person was of high importance in ancient societies. It was closely linked to survival. Modern society on the other hand constantly tries to teach us how to (unsuccessfully) relieve ourself of this natural human nature and shift our needs to highly untrustworthy entities (corporations, capitalists, workplace, fast friends we barely trust, medical drugs, substance etc).

After we see many people wrecking their lives because they didn't pay heed to choosing the right entities to depend on, we form negative opinions about being dependent itself, thus creating a massive contradiction with natural human instincts.

"Independence" is the independence to give life a meaning

I am dependent on my parents for a lot of things. I am dependent on my SO for many more things. I am dependent on the local shopkeeper for vegetables. I'm dependent on this mithai shop which sells my favorite samosas. My life is made possible due to many more entities on which I'm directly or indirectly dependent.

But I call myself an independent person. I am free from being affected by influences which will divert me from my destination. I call myself independent, for I have the means and mindset to live life the way it will lead to my purpose and give meaning to my existence.

1. I'm not a social media person. But everytime I talk about society, I somehow have to bring it up because it (sadly) shapes minds of new generation more than anything else.

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