Replying to LO28800 --
Dear Jan and LO List,
I want to say something about independence/freedom and also something
The difficulty with this kind of dialogue is that it's difficult to know
what someone truly means by what they write. So I preface my remarks by
saying that this posting has been catalyzed by what I perceived in your
email. Everything I say is meant kindly and respectfully.
For sure we need less alienating and less destructive governments,
societies, and companies. To that end interdependence,
servant-leadership, and stewardship are pathways to more benevolent,
nurturing, and generative environments.
Yet I do not see these ideals to be in conflict with freedom and
independence. Nor do I see freedom and independence to be alienating and
destructive. For a few days I have been reflecting about what you said
regarding the US liking the Lone Ranger role, and the Statement of
Independence being an excuse for becoming independent from the British
Crown. This does not speak for me.
Independence as a pathway designed to exclude interdependence is not the
same thing as independence as a pathway designed to escape destructive
subjugation. Intentional freedom from playing well together
(responsibility shirked) is not the same thing as intentional freedom from
physical, mental, economical, emotional, or intellectual prison (escape).
So I wish the kind of freedom we enjoy in the US a very long and fruitful
life. I take it for granted too often. I do too little in return. As I
mentioned in a previous post, being equal without being free is not so
good (equally enslaved). This can be the end game of the
over-interdependent mindset. Nor is being free without being equal so
good (domination, maldistribution). This can be the endgame of the
over-independent mindset. Being fully free and fully equal -- both at once
-- is the challenge.
The US makes a lot of mistakes. It's a big LO. It grows and changes,
however slow. Don Dwiggins wrote in a post to this list in another
thread; "I remember a saying of John Wooden, one of the coaching legends
of college basketball: 'other things being equal, the team that makes the
most mistakes will win'". Not that the US will "win," but we'll become
better and more responsible. We'll generate more choices, and we'll
become better stewards of this planet. I will never forget Mikhail
Gorbachev scolding the US for not taking our freedom "to become" more
seriously. He also scolded the US for not acting more responsible and
consistent, considering our freedom to do so. Scoldings well-taken.
When I first traveled to the UK about 15 years ago, it was the strangest
feeling. The only way I can describe it is that I felt like I had just
come home. The last thing I would want is to be totally independent from
a place that feels like home. And if you all don't mind a sidebar, I am
grateful to the UK, and thankful for the sight of Tony Blair standing in
the flesh in the joint session of Congress just after Sept 11. That was
one of the few things that made me feel warm and encouraged in those days.
And a thank-you to all of you in other countries that cared enough to warm
our hearts when we felt so cold inside.
Anyway, Jan, I maybe can see where you are headed with your thoughts on
interdependence. I just can't go all the way with you. Perhaps it has to
do with the concept that any strength overplayed becomes a weakness. Too
much of any good thing is not so good.
A simple model for growth is one of moving from dependence to
independence, then from independence to interdependence. A continuing
shift (supersession) in mindset, responsibility, and connection. I think
we expect that the next mindset should replace the former as we grow -- or
as a country grows. Independence replaces dependence. Interdependence
replaces independence. But I do not believe it works like this. Instead
I believe that at first we are dependent. Then as we grow, we become
independent as well as dependent. Further growth renders us
interdependent as well as independent as well as dependent. All three
paradigms are at play at once -- in a dance of sorts.
Now for a few comments on interdependence. I suppose with all the talk
about it, I'll sound like a heretic. But I'm coming to the view that too
much of it is not such a good thing. Certainly no interdependence is not
good, but I think you can have too much. You might well ask how can we
have too much when we have so little? That would be a good question. I
would answer that I believe that the emphasis on interdependence is out of
proportion to the emphasis on independence and dependence. Out of
balance. Creating new and different problems. More emphasis needs to be
placed on responsible independence. And on when and how dependence
contributes to growth in a system. A simple example can be found in most
of the current definitions for teamwork. They leave me feeling shut out.
They do not provide a place for who I am and for the gifts I might bring
to the table. For me to breathe, there has to be an "I" in teamwork
somewhere. Maybe just an "i."
People talk about connecting more of a system to itself to make it become
more alive. I believe you can overconnect. How things are connected,
what flows through the connections, when, etc, are very important
questions to me. Sometimes it seems that our world is feeding back on
itself and is squealing like a big speaker with a microphone jammed up
against it. We understand so little about system dynamics, yet we plug
everything into everything on paper and say "that's good." Maybe we're
too tightly coupled? Maybe we all need to take a week's nap.
This is not to say that I don't believe we need to think and act
systemically, but a little isolation every now and again might be healing.
We may need some dampening. Like a shock absorber on a car. We need
something to keep us from bouncing all over the place. We need some
still, deep waters between the rapids. That can be a choice, if we so
Thanks for making me think and for listening.
John Dicus <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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