The Myth of Independence

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Image Description: This cartoon image is by Ben Montero. A bunch of friends — an alligator, two birds, a frog, a worm using a wheelchair, and a dog — are all together, smiling, and looking in different directions. In the middle, some text says, “Sometimes, I Can’t Make It On My Own,” and then in the bottom right of the image, some text says, “That’s OK!”

Happy Interdependence Day!

I always post this image by Ben Montero on July 4. I really love it.

This year, I also want to share this quote from Mia Mingus. She is a Disability Justice and Transformative Justice activist, teacher, and practitioner. She discusses the myth of independence in her lecture “Access Intimacy, Interdependence, and Disability Justice,”  she says,

“The myth of independence is the idea that we can and should be able to do everything on our own and, of course, we know that that’s not true. Someone made the clothes you’re wearing now, your shoes, your car or the mass transit system you use; we don’t grow all our own food and spices. We can’t pretend that what happens in this country doesn’t affect others, or that things like clean air and water don’t bound us all together. We are dependent on each other, period. The myth of independence reflects such a deep level of privilege, especially in this rugged individualistic capitalist society and produced the very idea that we could even mildly conceive of our lives or our accomplishments as solely our own. And of course, the other side of this is not just that it’s not true—not just that the emperor has no clothes, but that everyone else should pretend he’s fully clothed too. So, the Myth of Independence is not just about the truth of being connected and interdependent on one another; it is also about the high value that gets placed on buying into the myth and believing that you are independent; and the high value placed on striving to be independent, another corner stone of the ableist culture we live in. Interdependence moves us away from the myth of independence, and towards relationships where we are all valued and have things to offer.”

So today… think about interdependence also. This is a liberating way for us to live collectively.


2 thoughts on “The Myth of Independence

  1. Renee, the older I get they more I realize that even being an introvert, I would not exist without all those who love me and I them. Being connected convinces me that we actually need very little as old as I have become. We need to rely upon God with all our heart, and what else should I need? Thank you for all your messages on this site!


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