Monday, February 22, 2016

Independence – Do any of us really have it?

Photo by Finola, all rights reserved-message if you'd like to use it
As we celebrate our 37th Anniversary of Independence here in Saint Lucia it seems a good time to reflect on what Independence means.

We all grow up with our parents guiding us in their own way, to be independent. Some do a great job, others barely know themselves what it means, having grown up with the aim of securing a job upon which you will be dependent for the rest of your life, or for many of our mothers, securing a husband upon whom you will remain dependent till death do you part.
I’ve written on Independence before over on Sun, Rain, Or… but that’s the thing – what Independence really is turns out to be hard to pin down! Yes, it’s a level of self-reliance and self-sustainability, but since none of us exists as an atom in a vacuum, then our ‘independence’ tends to involve a whole myriad of relationships and alliances that are what makes life, well, life. And in many cases make life its best and its worst as well, right?! Lordy. What to do?


Yesterday I read and posted this article titled: The Smarter And More Independent You Are, The HarderIt Is To Find Love” Ok, well, it’s interesting and makes some good points but what true smarts is, is another question! Because being emotionally open and able to form relationships is definitely something that requires intelligence – just not the kind we have been brainwashed into thinking is the most valuable! But more and more you hear people referring to ‘Emotional Intelligence’ as being THE most important asset for the future we have ahead of us if we are to break free from the shackles of the world run by greed, money, power and mob-psycho driven war. Being able to relate to people in a truly intelligent way is what might just save us from ourselves…

My personal road to independence has been an interesting rollercoaster. I’m naturally someone who looks constantly at what is going on around me and tries to find the root causes, see values and meanings beyond the obvious accepted and often erroneous interpretations society has written onto the books for us, so in that vein, I am by nature, a very independent person. But I am equally not. I grew up very lacking in confidence – shy as could be and constantly seeking to fit in. Well, all that’s changed a bit now!!! Lol. Yeah, but it took quite some work to get where I am today and I am still not quite as ‘independent’ as I want to be!

Photo by Finola, all rights reserved -message if you'd like to use it
I am still one of those who seeks companionship of ‘that someone special’, though I know that person must be as enamoured of their own space as I am of mine and of equally as we may be of each other…  I am still someone who likes to dip in and spend time with people even though I’ll just as easily exit and spend time alone. Where ‘independence’ comes into it for me is that I can do this without feeling the need to answer to friends, family, partner or people in general, when I choose to do one or the other. Being able to comfortably say ‘no thanks’ and not feel compelled always to explain, even when not asked, but not being selfish either -that’s my idea of true independence in relationships, and of course it has to be reciprocal!

The Daily Grind

In work now, that’s another matter. Here is the hardest part I think many of us in today’s world deal with is the trade-off between the money we need to live well in this money-driven society we have created, versus the need to have a quality of life. And as we hear more and more stories of twenty-something year olds having strokes and 40-somethings dropping dead of brain aneurisms, it becomes more and more of a worry for us that we are selling our life away for no good reason. But then we only have to cast our eyes off our computer screens for a split second to be tamed back into submission by the hoards of chronically jobless people and their unenviable reality.

Where is our independence? Surely we can break free from this unhealthy, unsatisfactory, unholy alliance we have created for humankind.

Shops open 6-7 days a week now – many businesses operate a 24-hour shift. Tell me how many times you hear someone state that there is not enough time in any given day to complete the work that needs to be done. Yes, granted some people laze about on jobs, but you have to ask why – is it really that we are so lazy or that we are unmotivated by the drudgery and misplaced motivations for having a job?

We have created a cycle of dependence in our current social-work structure that is inherently flawed. We chase more and more money because the ‘cost of living’ keeps rising. Meanwhile the real cost of living is ignored - the price we pay for the money we earn – loss of health, loss of time to actually live, loss of enjoyment and fulfilment from the work that we do.

Independence for me I think involves a mix of things – a job/way to earn that is reasonably 
secure and brings in a reasonable amount of cash-money or tradeable goods or services and does not cost me my life! I would happily trade time for less money – the key being just enough solid income to live well – and of course, living well in my world involves a lot of alternatives that mainstream has not yet adopted – recycling, growing my own, bartering, cutting wastage, opting out of the super-wasteful ‘fashion cycle’ whether it be clothes, home accessories or whatever – moving towards long-term style & quality over throwaway fads…all that means I can enjoy a genuinely rich life without so much cash.

Photo by Finola, all rights reserved -message if you'd like to use it
Independence on a larger social scale I think could come from re-examining how we set up our work / employment systems and moving towards less hours per person with more hours per society – employ more people on a shift system for less time each, while teaching sustainable lifestyles as a core subject in schools. That’s the simple bones of the thing. Let us all earn enough and all live enough

Does society have what it takes or are we too enslaved by the system that exists to be able to break free? What do you think?