A quick glance at the words “independence” and “interdependence” may leave you with a feeling that they’re contradictory. I have found this not to be the case in personal life as well as in different current world structures. Let me start by saying that as parents it is one of our deepest desires to raise children in such a way that they become independent adults. I believe (time will prove) that our children know this and strive to be independent. I know I did.
Personal Independence: I left home at age of 16 thinking I was fully independent. Fortunately, others around me understood how much help I really needed and were there to help. After our beautiful wedding, I thought I was independent until my wife and I had to deal with a few major projects together including establishing a sound foundation for our family. I then thought I was independent as long as I had her. At least, together we could be independent. This lasted until we had our first child and needed all kinds of help from the first day. Now more than ever I realize how little the word “independence” means at least when it comes to our relationships with others in our daily life.
Independence of thought is a slightly different matter. While our thoughts also depend on information, exchanges, relationships, our experiences, our beliefs and everything in our life, I believe being able to independently view facts and arrive at our own conclusions is important. This can only take place when we value our place in the world, value ourselves enough to recognize that our own existence can enrich the lives of others. Therefore, value yourself, think independently, but rely on others and allow them to rely on you.
Organizational Independence: My company has customers who are also our competitors. We have suppliers who are also our fierce competition. Every day thousands of companies help us in every function of our organization. It is hard to imagine how an organization could be completely self-reliant and independent of others. After all, it operates in multiple interconnected ecosystems. It is affected by numerous laws. It has many different constituents. Again, independence is really interdependence. Every organization should become a responsible participant while, of course, maintaining its own independent offering, its value, its unique proposition and raison d’être.
Global Interdependence: No country can survive completely independently in the world today. We trade with other nations, we sell goods, we source raw materials, we exchange ideas, etc. The latest financial crisis is yet another proof. The entire system is so interdependent that stress in one country affects the entire chain.
Endless examples exists of our interdependence at every level. Two types of dependence are the most critical in my life. Fully depending on God’s grace, love, understanding, and guidance in our everyday life is like having blood in our veins. Depending on our spouses, and ensuring they can fully rely on us is what lets us form powerful family cores. So, instead of focusing on raising independent children, perhaps we should help them become responsible, reliable people who can be trusted and relied upon by their spouses, their families, their organizations, their nations, and the world.