I Hereby Declare…

What if it were just that simple?

What if you could just declare your independence?

  • You could free yourself from harmful situations or systems.
  • You could be free from imposed constraints.
  • You could be free from dependence on anyone or anything.

All of this, simply by your own decree.

But, as you can imagine, it’s not that simple. At the very least, such a declaration is going to cause some conflict.


Independence is a multi-faceted idea.

While independence is associated with freedom from dependence or control, in the United States, it is more often used to celebrate and promote the idea of rugged individualism. We hammer away at the idea of self-reliance as a virtue. We push the premise that, to be the best, you must have the intestinal fortitude and strength to shun any form of help, even when you need it, have earned it, or deserve it.

It is this idea that props up the myth of superiority by creating a narrative that history’s great men were simply better than others, not the product of circumstance, unearned privileges, or handouts. This incentivizes the spread of the misguided idea that depending on others is a weakness.

In reality, history has proven time and time again that, as a species, we’re better together than we are apart.

We all rely on the generosity, kindness, and support of friends, family, and strangers. We are all borne into circumstances beyond our control. We all exist within an interconnected system, and it is largely untenable to exist outside of that system, or any system.

“Dependency” is a constantly shifting category, defined by those in positions of power to justify their seat at the table, and explain why so many deserve so little.

When it comes to independent, self-made men, instead of the image of Atlas who held up the world on his own, or the even more foolish idea that he shrugged, we typically see something else.


Nearly every definition of company, whether as a noun or verb, is about being with or associating with others. Yet, oddly enough, for all of the hyper-individualism in the United States, we also have a serious love affair with “the company.”

It’s as if, underneath it all, there is a keen awareness that we need one another; that there is strength in numbers.

  • We need to be in the company of others to do our best work.
  • We need groups working with other groups for mutual advantage.
  • We grow stronger as the size of the company grows.

In forcing people back into the office, and creating of macro conditions that compel labor to work to survive and afford “the cost of living,” the shareholder and owners class, along with the political class who shape the social safety nets we make available, subtly show their hand: they depend on us.

And so, there is this odd contradiction between independence and dependence.

On the one hand they want us to believe we are separate from one another, yet keenly understand that they rely on us and routinely bring us together for maximum leverage.

Profit maximization does not result from solo enterprise.

Re-framing Independence

When we revere the idea of independence, I think what we’re really after, is the feeling of being free and secure.

  • We want to make our own decisions free from coercion.
  • We want to have the security and safety that allows us to be unburdened and free from the fight for survival.
  • We want to have options and the security of knowing there is limited risk in making a choice.

All of this happens best when we feel safe, and especially when we feel loved.

I can think of no less safe and no more loveless place to be than isolated and alone, independent of connection with others. Yet, this is the direction we are moving in more and more.

Our current structure continues to atomize and alienate the individual away from both the product and fruits of their own labor, disconnects us from the source of our food, and causes us to toil away for survival at the expense of sufficient time remaining for family, friends and leisure.

If we don’t have the freedom to stop working without losing our housing, our healthcare, or our ability to eat and feed our families, are we really independent? Are we really free?

A New Freedom

How we relate to words and ideas is vitally important and we must recognize that it is not developed independent from the influence of others. There is an immense incentive for the uppermost class to influence the public into seeing every issue as an individual one to distract from the structure that keeps us from truly being free and secure. This is why so much money is poured into lobbying politicians, buying media properties, and preserving hierarchies, in order to consolidate ever more power and control.

When we think of independence as individualism, we lose our power and we become increasingly isolated and alienated. We suffer more depression and anxiety. We come to depend on “the company” for our needs rather than each other and society. The benefits in this system flow upward enriching a few individuals at the expense of the many.

When we think of independence as the quest for safety and true freedom, we move toward a world that is more connected and caring. We feel more belonging and that creates the condition for people to find a purpose they wish to pursue. Society can then develop into one where we declare independence from the fight for mere survival.

This independence day, I wish you more than just a properly-cooked burger and a reasonably enjoyable fireworks display. I wish you a warm invitation to becoming superhuman.

As our first act, we can start by retiring the myth that we are weak for depending on one another. We can demand more, not through individual actions, but through coordinated action rooted in a willingness to depend on each other.

Becoming Superhuman means adopting a belief in the power of helping others. It means becoming the sort of person that others can depend on. With enough of us, maybe we won’t feel the need to run away from depending on each other. We just need to courage to believe there is something better than fighting for survival on our own.

I’ll start: I’m depending on you.

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