Why Independence? by Nicole Bluh

Inter-Dependence is a theme commonly discussed by the people I am blessed to be connected with.  

Growing up, I was taught about becoming an “Independent Woman,”  I was taught about how the US had gained Independence and how this country operated as a free nation.  As a young woman I was taught that I could work a job and need not rely on “anyone else, especially a man” for my necessities or things I wanted.  We are taught to become expert shoppers; able to find the best deals and highest quality.  If we actually contemplate all of what it requires to produce goods cheaply, cheap enough so that the “middle or lower classes” can purchase all of what they need, we find that the price of things, of food for example, are very skewed.  The term externalized cost is used to describe a cost of producing something that the consumer does not necessarily pay, but must be paid in order to produce said good. These externalized costs, in the past and current history of the US are most often paid by humans in slave or generally exploited labor and devastation of the environment.  This surely does not mean that we are independent by any means. If we require others to be slaves or devastate our fellow beings on the planet to get goods at a price that we can afford from the money we earn from the jobs we work, we are more so completely dependent!  Dependent on slavery and abuse!  This country was built to protect and build the rights for the beneficiaries of this dependency, while ensuring that the systems continued.  We continue to set up trade agreements that basically force people into the cities and into these exploited worker positions to produce goods and we wage wars to ensure cheap resource extraction agreements to get raw materials to produce goods.  

When did it become desirable to value independence and what does this really mean?  We all know that it is very rare or next to impossible for us to exist completely of our own volition.  Working a job means that money must be earned and that money is used to purchase our basic needs and wants.  Even as a homesteader, for one to make tools, food, clothing and shelter completely on one’s own is not very reasonable.  So from a reasonable state of mind we must agree that we are interconnected when it comes to our own survival and well-being in life.  Trade, barter or quite simply agreeable sharing is a must for us to enjoy life on this planet.  What if we decided to recognize all the ways we are inter-dependent to live?  What would that mean for our creativity?  What would that mean for our spirit?

As I have dove into my path as a grower of food and medicine I have found that it is next to impossible to actually be independent AND that the US-based idea of independence is actually a dependency upon practices that are kept in the dark.  The only thing that we can have independence of here is our control of our own minds and even then it is difficult due to all of the influence in our environments.  Our environment very deeply dictates our being, and just look around at where we are, especially in our cities where we really enjoy this idea of “independent” lifestyle.  Cities are some of the most dependent communities on Earth.  Cities must have food shipped into them in order to feed huge growing populations.  

Now I am not saying that it would be great if we had continued to be an out-right colony of the British, however I am asking have we ever become independent from that relationship and teachings?  Would not becoming a sovereign nation require that the rights and roles of the people of the land, the land, and the people that perform the skilled labor (growers, builders, crafters, and artisans) be respected?

There is a huge epidemic of lack of value of labor or “blue collar” work.  This is because of the lack of respect and compensation given to the people who perform this very valuable work.  With less people, desiring to head towards labor work we are placing our health into a very dangerous place.  This sentiment has spread throughout the world now as well, especially due to the illusion of the “American Dream.”

How will anything short of reparations of land and labor offer encouragement to the youth in moving towards doing labor-based work with a sense of confidence?  How can we bust the myth of the “self-made American Dream?”

The US has exported a culture of dependency on externalized cost disguised as Independence and Freedom to the entire world.  What if we demonstrated a major effort to share land and labor with respect together and take pride in our Inter-Dependence and collective efforts?   What if that Culture was our newest and next example and export?

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