(Inter)dependence

Kind of like kids and teenagers, old folks tend to really cherish their independence. Of course it’s a different kind of independence,

But this has me thinking about depending upon other people. I hate depending upon other people, because it means having less control over one’s actions and takes on a subtle form of humiliation, of submission. I don’t like having power over others, or making others depend on me too much either, so go figure — I’m complicated. Ah, but there are moments when interdependence is awesome right? Like when you need to find a job or living space or life partner? Sure, it makes life easier, but then again it’s also another constraint on your “freedom”.

Are constraints on freedom unavoidable? Is this bad? In his famous work, ‘Beyond Good and Evil,’ Nietzsche proclaims the qualities of independence and self-exertion to be “good” values. “Bad” values are those of self-sacrifice and submission to the state, the group or party, as well as the notions of equality or democracy that accompany such a submission. He sets up a paradigm of human existence that echoes a lot of the trappings of karma (Nietzsche was an academic fan of Buddhism, as he mentions in his later anti-Christian work, ‘The Anti-Christ’).

To summarize (or is that paraphrasing?) his ideas, he thinks that the past (made up of previous causes) gives rise to our drives and desires, which in turn cause us to create our values and judgments. Simple enough stuff, basically stating that there is no isolated original cause of our worldly decisions nor is there any unbiased, pristine value judgment that we can make.

A ha! but that’s nothing new, Mr. Nietzsche! The Buddhist organization beat you to getting that on paper about 2000 years prior! ‘Course, it seems so impressive when someone writes it all down on their own, right? Gives some semblance of personal willpower or whosits.

One of the reasons I really wanted to pursue martial arts and other stuff as a kid is because I always loathed the way older people, or more helpless people, have to depend on others and yet feel miserable for it. Ah, not like I’m some cold, heartless machine. I’m a real team player (there is no I in EGO, HAHAHA!) But, for some reason, sometimes people just don’t want to help you out. Nobody knows what’s best for somebody else now, do they?

I think that everyone wants to be independent at the bottom of their heart, at the most subtle layers of their being. Of course we all want democracy and charity and peace and friendship too. But the workings of society and the world, they encourage people to be overly dependent on one-another in a way that’s malicious. But, in our society it’s seen as some kind of cool, smart, business ability to make buyers or stockholders dependent on your market decisions, or trade secrets, or connections.

In the famous Broadway musical play, ‘Fiddler on the Roof’, the main town is a poor Jewish shtetl in Poland. When one of the main characters is asked how the townspeople make a living, he responds with, “we keep busy doing each other’s laundry”. In other words, fake, charitable jobs. A lot of human existence is like that, particularly in times of overpopulation or resource scarcity: work becomes like charity. We become dependent upon others, but in a way where we’re putting our livelihood and faith in them.

That’s the clincher. That’s where you suffocate. Working for other people: there’s no freedom in that! But neither is there in turning the tables, in making others rely that way upon you!

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