July 5, 2020
A Lay-Led Worship with Kem Tetlow
(See details below.)
Cycling through dependence, independence and interdependence
Photo: Bird Perched on Gazelle by Frans Van Heerden (The bird is an Ox-pecker.) Ox-peckers have interdependent relationships with many animals. "They cling to cattle and big-game animals to remove ticks...from their hides; when alarmed, the birds hiss, alerting their hosts to possible danger." - Encyclopedia Brittanica
#UUCLV #UnitarianUniversalist #UnitarianUniversalism #UUCLVEvent #SundayService #interdependence
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John Legend, The Roots - "Wake Up Everybody" (Audio) ft. Common, Melanie Fiona
Hymn #361 "Enter, Rejoice and Come In"
"America the Beautiful" is an American patriotic song. The lyrics were written by Katharine Lee Bates, and the music was composed by church organist and choirmaster Samuel A. Ward at Grace Episcopal Church in Newark, New Jersey.
For purple mountain majesties - Above the fruited plain!
America! America! - God shed His grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood - From sea to shining sea!"
Can I Be Your Dog? By Troy Cummings https://youtu.be/OMcLVnu5O44
Moving into Interdependence
First, I want to acknowledge that many of these ideas came from Evan Hadkins Blogs in Mind and the Goskybound coaching website.
When we think about moving from dependence to independence to interdependence, the most common metaphor is about a human baby growing into an adult. We are all born dependent. We have to have someone take care of us, feed us, change us, burp us, clothe us, and so on.
We do learn to walk and talk and express ourselves and keep pushing our parents or caregivers for more freedom. Growing up takes a long time, but soon enough we are adults for the rest of our lives and we forget about the ways that we are still dependent.
For example, try holding your breath for 2 seconds—you are physically dependent on oxygen, water, food shelter. Imagine what would happen to all of us if the garbage collectors went on strike? Ohh… the smell we’d endure. And its not just physical dependencies that we have. We depend on the infrastructure of roads, and sewers and hospitals and so many other things to maintain ourselves. But then people say, “yeah, but I’m emotionally independent and don’t need anyone. We find that we all want to be liked, or respected, appreciated or admired. Humans are naturally social creatures. Having a good conversation with someone else will expand our thinking and make us feel in tune with others.
Yet we Americans are reluctant to acknowledge our dependence, partly because we place such a high value on Independence and individualism. After all, recognizing our dependence reminds us that we can be hurt. We can be exploited by others, or betrayed, or rejected when we are needy. Still, pretending we aren’t dependent on others won’t help us deal with the reality that we are. It’s just that we hate being reminded of it.
Still sharing our vulnerabilities with others can be a powerful moment of caring and sharing and true intimacy. So, there are benefits to acknowledging our dependence as part of our journey.
Developing our independence is an important part of our teen-age years. When we get in touch with our own needs and look for different ways of meting them. We try different approaches, new hairstyles, different clothing, until we see what works best for us. We rebel against the norms and status quo and long for new ways of doing things. And as we experiment, grow and learn, we get a strong and stronger sense of who we are. Of what we can do and what we can’t do. We see what is unique and special about us and begin deciding what kind of life style we want to live. Developing our Own Style is another way of saying Gaining our Independence.
I’d like to add a side note here. Independence is not Blind Rebellion. The rebel who has to have someone or something to rebel against is simply reacting and not being independent. That’s what I think when I see people standing next to a
No shoes, No shirt, No service sign and loudly proclaiming “You can’t make me wear a mask!” Or vehemently stating “It’s my constitutional right to breathe air with NO obstruction” - They think their freedom is Absolute and don’t recognize their dependence on others.
We do need to challenge traditions and move from copying the past that may no longer work for us. The Independence stage creates those opportunities. However, Independence can be reckless, because of its focus on the individual and not considering the consequences to others. And it can be selfish and even narcissistic. There is a famous metaphor I like to quote: “My freedom to swing my hand in the air, ends when it reaches your face.” Two independent people may end up in a stalemate, or an agreement to disagree. Which could mean that what ever problem is approaching them will overwhelm them, because they couldn’t or wouldn’t work together.
So, as we understand these limitations and acknowledge them, we begin to move into the third stage of development—interdependence. This expands the focus from the self to how the individual relates to others and the world around them. We find that with the help of others, we can tackle bigger projects and goals. Without teamwork, we’d have no Hoover Dam, or Brooklyn Bridge or have landed on the moon.
We collaborate and develop partnerships to achieve bigger dreams than we can do alone. In the metaphor of a human growing up, it starts when the single person looks for a mate or someone to share their life with. And typically occurs in the late teens or early twenties. Interdependence is based not on using people, but on sharing power and finding larger purposes to support. It involves new concepts of mutual respect, taking responsibility and finding common ground for mutual benefit. Its finding win-win ways of doing things, not win-lose in which no one really wins.
Another side note here—many people think competition is about independence. We see the Olympic medal going to the fastest person, the highest-skilled, or the strongest. However, when we look closer, those competitions are dependent on shared rules. Which are often decided interdependently. Without the rules and agreement on them, there would be no winner. And there are consequences for not following the rules from sports penalties to jail-time. Competition does not exist in a vacuum of independence. In fact, we often hear that we value competition because it is a way for all of us to gain! And if you notice, it’s when all of us together gain that we are being interdependent.
Western work culture has already moved away in many places from the dependent Boss/subordinate command and control environment. It stifles thinking and creativity which we need for innovation. Generations X and Y have demanded more freedom and autonomy. And as their skills can be used elsewhere, they move where they can find independence. However, we’ve also learned that working in teams makes sense because knowledge is so specialized. Having a marketing person work with the designer and the engineer for a new product will be better than one worked on by each separately. Today we are in a connected system. And the connections are growing more complex and global every day. I eat cherries grown in Chile and wear clothes made in Asia, or Lesotho, wherever that is.
We recognize that the wind can blow smoke from a volcano around the world and a border won’t keep out viruses. However, we aren’t solidly grounded in interdependence yet. We remain individuals wanting our own way. There’s a major truth we are slowly coming to realize with the racism issues facing us. I can only be free when others are free.
Let me say that again, “I can only be free when others are free.” Because we are just one rule change away from being the oppressed person, and it can happen to us or our children. And oppressing others takes energy and eats away at our spirits and souls; it hardens us to the sufferings of others and we become less human and less humane. Ultimately, we see that we are connected by the air we breathe, the plant we live on, the dreams for our future and our needs for being valued and having security and opportunities. We have freedom collectively and we share responsibility collectively.
I have been amazed at the stories I am seeing on the internet of people waking up to their white privilege and recognizing the benefits they have had unconsciously.
So, we have looked at three stages of movement. Here is a chart (See Bottom) that I want to share with you illustrating some characteristics of Dependence, Independence and Interdependence.
I decided to illustrate how we in fact are a mixture of all three, by telling you about my granddaughter, who just turned one.
She went from walking about two or three steps, to walking 25 or more in one week! And it was her drive to become independent that led her into that achievement. And she is quite firm at saying No already—and does it when she is full and doesn’t want more food, or when she gets mad that she is picked up to have her pants changed. And while at first, I thought she wasn’t really interdependent, I realized that she often sees me as a partner. That she cooperates and trusts me. She gives me smiles and cuddle as rewards for my taking care of her. She delights me when she runs up to me with her arms raised to be lifted UP, UP! And I am not just the powerful one, I am dependent on her for access to joy and love, and innocence, as much as she is dependent on me for safety and care. I now see her behavior as being a young mix of all three kinds of dependence.
So, we are bouncing around from being dependent, to being independent, to being interdependent without really recognizing it. If we do three simple things, we can move into a clearer understanding of being interdependent, and cultivate more of it.
First, Embrace Our Dependence. Recognize that no one is alone, and able to survive without some help. Have you ever seen the series about Alaskan pioneers, who bring their warm clothes made by others, their machines, heaters and insulated fabrics? Some pioneers.
Even my grandmother who was born in a Kansas sod house, had metal tools, buckets, animals, stoves, and plates brought in their covered wagon with them. All made by others. We need one another. And it gives others a chance to feel strong and capable, when we depend on them.
Second: Value Our Independence. And valuing means to appreciate the benefits AND recognize the problems and limitations. We need to learn about our own style and what we can contribute to the larger picture. And recognize the limitations that individualism and independence impose on us.
And Thirdly, most importantly, WORK TOGETHER. Pursue larger goals, and join with other like-minded folks, like we do here at UUCLV, to create bigger projects than we can do alone. Recognize that it actually feels better to be sharing power with others as well as responsibility; that being part of a team is a joy unlike a solitary achievement. Not always better, but different and worth having. Develop your skills of deeply listening to others, and compromise and conflict resolution. Seek opportunities to ask for help from others and provide it unasked as you can. Sounds easy, and of course its NOT!
To close this reflection, I want to share with you a video from Charlottesville, Virginia. As you may recall, on August 12, 2018 there was a UNITE THE RIGHT rally by white supremacists which erupted into violence. This shows one thing that happened next and it touched me.
We Need One Another (Right Now)
In the wake of tragic violence on August 12, 2017 in Charlottesville, VA, high school students from Metro Nashville Public Schools dedicated a beautiful song to the people of Charlottesville. One month later, these five students traveled to Charlottesville to perform this song with the Charlottesville High School Orchestra and Choir. The song, "We Need One Another (Right Now)", written by Bebe and Cece Winans, is a moving and uplifting tribute to peace, love and unity.
Hymn # 1017 “Building a New Way” https://farfringe.com/stj1017-building-a-new-way/
New York Philharmonic: “We Shall Overcome,” Arranged by Jordan Millar https://youtu.be/pJstIEx6EnU
"We shall overcome
We are not afraid
The truth shall set us free."