Independence Day (US) - interdependence LO28842

From: Jan Lelie (
Date: 07/15/02

Replying to LO28815 --

Dear John, dear LOstereners,

Note: Excuse me for not answering sooner: my first response was hoisted
away into never never land through the inexcrutable innerworkings of the
software programms occuping this PC. I add to my independence from
software errors.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Your reactions clear up my own
thinking to. As a matter of dialogue, i'd like to make some additions.

John Dicus wrote:

> I want to say something about independence/freedom and also something
> about interdependence.

I suppose independence and freedom are not on the sama scale. They seem to
me to be two seperate dimensions. They can be disconnected: one can be
free or not-free and dependent or independent. And it can even depend (!)
on the time and situations. Perhaps freedom - and (in)dependence should
not be used as a noun but as an adjective. Or perhaps there are simple two
verbs: to free and to depend. "To free or not to free?" That is the
question. There might exist at least four types of situations: one frees
to independ, or two: frees to depend, or three: not frees to independ or
four: not frees to depend. Sometimes one can free oneself, sometimes not.

If interdepending is the situation of recognizing both dependencies and
independencies, what is the position recognizing being free and unfree?
Interfree? Or is it interdependence too, as the two dimensions cross each
other there?

> 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.

Same here.

> 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.

That hurts! If we need less alienating and less destructive governments
companies, why don't we have them? What prevents us from creating these
institutions, now? Not only in the US - home of the free and brave - but
also in the rest of our little universe. Or are we still on our way to

> 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.

Excuse me for the Lone Ranger role - i happen to be a Clint Eastwood fan.
But i thought the declaration of independence is a statement about
becoming independent from the British Crown? Not about becoming absolutely
independent. Here The Netherlands became a republic by renouncing the
Spanish Emperor - then a novelety. I think the Lone Ranger metafore came
to my mind because that might be the way the myth of independency is
perceived in the US. Myths, stories and sagas play an important role in
shaping the (un)consious ways we feel and think. If people want to justify
their actions and results, if they want to come to terms with their
responsibilities, they (re)create their stories.

> 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).

Perhaps the issue of (in)(ter)dependence has to do with framing. One man
can only be independent when there is something to depend on.
Interdependence is the notion that we cannot free ourselves from the
notion of (in)depending. Look at this Dependent --> Not dependent =?=
Independent --> Not Independent. Is not independent the same as dependent?
Is dependent the same as not independent? To both questions i'd answer no.
Not independent is not the same as dependent. And ependent is not the same
as not independent. It - again - depends on the situation. In most
situations one is both dependent and independent. We should have the
freedom to think about these issues.

There might be an entity that is free and independent, but it sure is not

> 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.

I tend to disagree. Nobody can be fully free nor fully equal. Or fully
(in)dependent, for that matter. Perhaps the idea that there is or should
be an absolute freedom or independence is at the root of this dialogue?
This doesn't imply that i'm against freedom or wouldn't strive for more

> 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.

A LO, if such a thing exists- in my opinion - should learn from it
mistakes. And i do not mean that not being able to prevent the terrorist
attack on the Twin Towers is the mistake. Nor that i'd made a mistake
about the determination of the US for finding and punishing the people

However, if it is a big LO, i'd expect the System Archetypes to be
developed. Like the ones i developed in a previous post. The System
Archetypes might teach how an action = reaction model in the long term
just creates more of the same. Issues of (in)dependence end in a Tragedy
of the Commons - or - to put it into a vision: when elephants (= leaders)
fight, the grass( = the people) suffers.

If it is a big LO, I'd like to hear more about visioning processes. The
main vision process tries to convince me that who ever is not with the US
is against it.

If it is a big LO: were is the team learning and personal mastery? And
above all, if it is a big LO, i'd expect to learn from the mental models
of the people involved. Were do i hear the balancing of inquiry and
advocacy? Most of the messages the US now seems to convey to me is that it
is i who has to learn that you do not mess around with uncle Sam.

Make no mistake about it: the US is the most powerful nation on earth and
i deeply respect the results it has acheived. We depend on the US for the
future of mankind. However, in a situation of success to the successful,
the idea of becoming independent from the rest of the system speeds up the
process of reaching the limits of the system. It is like a combination of
two old jokes: the one of the men that jumped from the tall building who
yells at every floor he passes: "so far, so good!" and the joke about the
man with a persecution complex: "it doesn't stop others from conspiring
against me".

> 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.

That might have been were i was headed: what was good in the past - a
reason for growth and development - might become a problem now, because
the situation has changed.

> 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.

In my thinking, i think i would assume that we've always been
interdependent. But until very recently, we - as a species - never knew it
- or never knew if formally. Now we've developed consiousness of others
and language and are able to "see" ourselves - in others. Theses processes
of "seeing" or "sensing" or "acknowledging" ourselves involve using frames
of reference. [Dependent - independent] is such a frame. These frames are
paradoxical: they seems to create inconsistencies. Not only is nobody able
to depend without indepence and vice versa, but also the very processes of
(in)depending are needed to get a feel of it.

> 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."

Why do you think you sound like a heretic? I cannot help noticing that the
feeling of being a heretic is coupled to the issues of (in)dependence and
teamwork. One of the paradoxes of group life is that sometimes you have to
become a heretic - within the frame of the group or team - in order for
the team or group to be able to deal with conflicting issues. Perhaps
every new point, every innovation in a group or system is introduced by a
heretic. Heretism might be the key to deliverance. In fact, there are two
ways to split a group: through heresy or through schism. Both ways, both
splits have to do with being (in)dependent.

Using this perspective i can explain how both heresy and schism are at
work: internally, in the US, deviant behaviour is seen, perceived,
labellled as heresy - for instance, the (re)actions on a ruling by a judge
about the conflict between the freedom of religion and the daily allegence
to the US in schools. On the other hand, externally, the US is creating a
schism with many of the UN countries about (appication of rule regarding)
the new international court. Interesting perspective.

Responsible independence - as you call it, - is, again in my opinion,
trying to find a way out of what is basically an interdependent situation.
Now, in the old days, the coupling between (sub)systems on earth was not
very tight: it probably took some time before the Declaration of
Independence - a schism - was noted in England etc. . With the advance of
technology, action - reaction cycles are faster. And in the old days,
leaders and people were not taken to think long and hard about creating
new solutions to what seemed a threath. So we are badly prepared for
situation that run out of control fast.

> 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.

See, we agree again!

> 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
> desire.

I do not think we have a choice: the tight coupling are a given, cannot be
undone. We have to navigate the rapids we ourselves created. And as we
cannot outsmart the action - reaction model, we'll have to come up with
creative solutions.

> Thanks for making me think and for listening.
> Warm regards,
> John

Like wise,

Jan Lelie


With kind regards - met vriendelijke groeten,

Jan Lelie

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