Interdependence

“Interdependence is and ought to be as much the ideal for man as self-sufficiency.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Independence is a prized commodity in our culture.  It implies self-worth.  Children celebrate milestones with, “Look, mom, I did it myself.”  Family and school teach independent living skills.  Elderly despair the loss of independence.  Institutions tout their mission to enhance the independence, hence the dignity, of constituents.

I like to think I’m a competent blind person.  Part of competence is meeting my own needs.  But my independent behavior inventory lists just one activity: shaving.  Even this, I rely on Barbasol and Gillette.  I might claim independent mobility, yet I depend on my white cane, my Seeing Eye dog, a GPS and the CTA. I dress in style with the help of a color identifier. I bathe using labeled shampoo and soap dispensers. I read recorded books, write using adaptive software and do arithmetic with a talking calculator and Microsoft Excel.  On Saturday nights, I watch movies with a descriptive soundtrack.

Because I’m a perfectionist, I like to do it myself.  Because I’m American, I value self-reliance.  Dependence is a social disease for us.  Losing mastery of my environment has been humbling and, occasionally, humiliating.  But it’s also a chance for growth, to grow into accepting my limitations, of accepting a role of asking for and accepting help.

To support my assertion, I’ll quote some wise guys.  The author Stephen Covey counsels, “Interdependent people combine their efforts with the efforts of others to achieve their greatest success.”

Thomas Merton, a really spiritual guy, says, “The whole idea of compassion is based on a keen awareness of the interdependence of all these living beings which are all part of one another and are all involved in one another.”

And the Moody Blues sang, “Through the eyes of a child, you will come out and see, that the world’s spinning ‘round, and through life you will be, a small part of a whole of the love that exists.  Through the eyes of a child you will see.”

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10 Responses to Interdependence

  1. nancyb says:

    My Mom, who occasionally dispensed a word or two of wisdom that I think of, used to say that you could help people by allowing them to help you. Particularly this was in reference to my Dad, as she thought that men needed to be needed…..but seems like we all do. Thanks for your words of wisdom.

  2. bethfinke says:

    Hmm. A bit too heavy for me at this moment. But can you tell me, what “color identifier” do you use?!

  3. pattibrehler says:

    Wonderful post! Thanks for the perspective.

    • Jeff Flodin says:

      Thank you all so much for your comments. I am of the generation who believe rock and roll lyrics contain much wisdom, hence the quote from the Moody Blues. Nancy, My mother puts the double whammy on men: they need more and they need to be needed more. And last, Beth, my color identifier is about fifteen years old, has a very proper British accent and cost about $150. It was made by Cobolt Systems Limited in England. I’ve heard that the color identifier app for the iPhone is pretty reliable but have no first hand experience with it.

      • nancyb says:

        Jeff I’m going to remember that…..sounds like our Moms might have had something in common!

  4. bethfinke says:

    For real? I have two different color identifiers downloaded on my iPhone but neither of them are reliable — guess I’ll check with Micki H. at the Guild for suggestions.

  5. My name is Heather. You sound like a real go getter! I am a psw. Personal support Worker. I have been working with a blind client for a year now. He turned 68 when he lost his sight. I’m running into a dead end of how to get him past the anger that he holds on to. Do you have any suggestions? Do you have skype where we could talk. My name is Heather. I live in Canada. My client is of German background. I just found your sight. I would appreciate any help. Thank you, Heather.

    • Carl D. says:

      Hi Heather
      It seems for a lot of folks anger is a big part of each day. Just let it happen. The answer is in the question “what else is there?” Each day withblindness is a new day. Each action we make is special. each success is a happy moment.
      Try – to make him a success at something. For me it is doing my own laundry and eating.

      • heather says:

        I have taken him for councelling but we can’t even get him to think positive. His excuise everytime is – can’t go for a walk cause I can’t see. There’s nothing good to do because I can’t see. I’m running into a dead end. Thanks Heather.

  6. Carl D. says:

    Hey again Heather
    I can’t speak for everyone, but I pretty damn well know we all got fed up with being blind almost the moment it happened … and tell ‘Alvin’ … “boohoo” life is not ending his way. … We can all make oatmeal, for ourselves … or we can go hungery .. it may be burnt … it may be watery … But dam it I can get off my ass and do it … fo myself.
    ps: thanks to you Heather – I normal don’t get this angry.

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