Independence smells of freedom, and freedom we like. We like the idea that we are free, as an individual and as a group. It allows us to believe that we can do whatever we want. Of course we know that that is not really true but the idea, embedded into the concept of independence, is nice to entertain.
Referring to the word independence we mostly get a sense of freedom from power and from control by an outside force. For a group this may indicate a separation from another group, resulting in a sovereign nation or in a separate church or congregation or in a separate club. For an individual it may refer to the ability to take care of oneself, not needing anything or anybody else. Again, of course we know that that is never totally true as we will always depend on others or on other circumstances but we like the feeling that we are managing alone. Moreover, we would welcome the idea that we could choose who to be dependent upon. However, for this to consciously happen we need to be well aware of how dependency works within a setting of individual freedom.
Independence also refers to a process, in the sense that you can only experience independence when you know what it feels like to be dependent. This means that you need to move from a dependent state to a situation in which you obtain more freedom, more self-power, in comparison with what you have been used to and as such it involves a conflict. It is rather unlikely that the existing power, under which you have been operating, is happy for you to go. In other words, changing an existing situation always involves internal struggles, a battle of opposing powers.
It is for this reason that we observe that when a group of people decides they no longer want to belong to another group, a country or a congregation, and they want to become “independent” a painful struggle ensues. On both levels, the physical and the mental aspects, the power struggle, which is a struggle for supremacy, is clearly visible. Accusations and rapprochements will fly in either directions and from the powers that be it will be made quite clear that a call for independence is illegal, that the people involved with it are rebels who are breaking the law and that punishment is appropriate. Physical violence and oppression is used in order to bring the drifting flock back into line and this violence is justified by the fact that the rebels are not behaving as they should, which means as is required by the existing authority. They simply want something else, and although often superficially this might be acknowledged, it is always maintained that the rebels should have done it differently, that they should have used different resources to try and achieve their goal. It is, however, always ignored that these people in the past have tried that, and have never been truly listened to.
We are drenched in the belief that a democratic process will lead to a peaceful resolution of all problems and that any other way of voicing a dissatisfaction should be condemned. Democracy is a simple structure that results in a consensus amongst different groups. This is how it works. The principle is that everyone should get a say in matters that affect the entire group. To streamline and collect the different opinions you set up a system whereby you allow a number of individuals to “say” something. They are allowed to put a yes or no on a piece of paper, or a for or against, and other people then grab the power to speak on behalf of these individuals, which are grouped together under very simple headings. Political parties are joining people by colours and it is portrayed as if all individuals within one party have the same opinion. Very simple slogans group people together. Think of simple examples such as Nazis, vegetarians, New Born Christians, fans of specific football clubs, lesbians, single mothers, policemen and so on. Always indicating that the individuals within the group can be viewed as having exactly the same opinion. Anyway, once all voices have been counted the democratic process comes into full swing. The people that turn out to belong to the largest group are then proclaimed to be right and are given permission to execute their ideas. All other groups become a “minority” and are expected to remain quiet and simply accept the will and the decisions of the majority. The majority rules. The minority must support the majority. Democracy is a majority ruling whereby all smaller groups and their needs or wants are being ignored. It is considered bad behaviour, unsporting behaviour from a bad loser, if you continue to disagree. The battle to become the largest group within the group is of vital importance for the survival of any subdivision. The more ignoring of the needs of smaller groups that goes on, the more radical these become in an effort to be heard and acknowledged. Democracy is a perfect breeding ground for extremism. Or one can choose the other option, which is to try and gain more popularity by appealing to a larger number of individuals. Use the same tools as the existing majority has used before. This can be done by saying pretty much the same as the group that is now the largest and is in charge of the democratic process right now. Democracy ultimately will lead to either extremism or much-the-sameness.
Trying to gain more independence from an outside power always involves conflict. This means that we are better off preparing ourselves to be the cause of a rift between ourselves and parts of the group we are attached to. It is a predictable pain and by anticipating it we are more able to let go of the old in the knowledge that we can’t take it with us into the new world order of our own little lives. When you no longer want to belong to a group, when you no longer want to do things the way the group does them, you will be met with disbelief and abuse. In spite of the pain it might cause you, you need to keep your focus on what you want to achieve, your freedom, and you need to put your energy into that process and not into soothing the separation anxiety and anguish.
An individual’s quest for independence is in essence no different from the independence movements we see in the world at large. Larger scale means more impact on more lives and playing it out on a world’s stage, but the principles of it and the way it works are exactly the same. If you want more independence of the healthcare system, of the financial system, of the educational system, of the judicial system, you will become, in the eyes of the system, a renegade, a lawbreaker, a terrorist. You are no longer entitled to the benefits or the protection of the system and you do need to be punished. The punishment is needed for two reasons. One is an ultimate effort to scare you into submission. The other, even more importantly, is to scare everybody else into staying where they are. When a system allows everybody to do whatever any individual within the group wants to, it loses its power over the group and all systems, in the first place, are put in place to have order and power over others. There is no point in having a system if nobody actually has to adhere to it. The system requires submission and cooperation.
An individual may not have the strength and stamina to withstand the onslaught of the authority. Apart from it being one against all, there is also the simple fact that we are human beings and we lead simple human lives. When it comes to us taking a stand against something, many of us already have lived and got used to for a while, it turns out it requires a tremendous effort and commitment. We may have a family, a spouse and children. We have parents and siblings. We have friends. All these may make us more vulnerable and while an individual may have scruples, the system most definitely has none. It is for this reason that individuals are looking for what they call “like-minded people”. We are trying to form a group in order to strengthen our own resolve and at the same time to weaken the impact from the opposing force.
Very often individuals that are grouping together feel the need to make clear and definite agreements on what constitutes independence to them and what doesn’t. They gather around a theme they feel empowered by. They also make it quite clear to one another which themes of the old group, the authority system, they are happy to continue to adopt. For instance, people may join in the belief that education should be an individual schooling process, geared at the development speed and direction of each individual child, and still adhere to the belief that children need vaccinations before they are allowed into a school environment. Each of such groups are striving for “independence” in their own way; independence from parts of the system’s stronghold.
Very often groups of individuals fighting for a kind of justice, a change in law, have a singular agenda. Single issues, like the educational system, need to change. This implies that the rest of the system is serving the people well and doesn’t need changing, in spite of the fact that on other themes, other groups are campaigning as vigorously. Trying to change within the existing system appears the only “right” way to progress, because otherwise the system itself would suffer and disintegrate. This would be a perfectly reasonable approach if elsewhere within the system all individuals and their needs were perfectly met. Now we get closer to the point of insight that will change everything. If I, as an individual, feel unheard and unserved by the system and have the right to make the system change to incorporate my personal needs, does not every other individual within the system have the same right?
Democracy has indoctrinated us into believing that the needs of an individual only are important enough for the system to take notice of when there are enough of them. When there is a large number of individuals demanding the same thing, the individual’s needs need to be taken into account on the basis that the growing number within the dissatisfaction group is threatening to destabilise the authority. This allows the system to totally ignore individuals as individuals. A lonely voice on Time Square. Nobody hears it. Nobody needs to take notice of it. It simply doesn’t exist. From the individual’s point of view this is a disaster. But who cares, unless it is your voice that is not being heard!
If we decide we would like a truly different world then we need to want to change the system, not just some elements within the system. One individual may not have all the skills and the knowledge to come up with a completely different society system, but if we allow others to do what they feel they need to do in their areas of expertise, in just the same way we are allowing ourselves to do what we believe in and we trust those other individuals to know what they are talking about just as we are trusting ourselves, then we are contributing towards a massive change. Big time. Of course, if everyone is allowed to do what they believe in and to do whatever they seriously feel is “right”, we are in for what is generally referred to as chaos.
Chaos occurs when there is no recognisable line or direction in occurrences or in a situation. When we no longer “recognise” the pattern, we only observe chaos. When we are looking at an unfamiliar pattern, one we have never come across before, it will be impossible for us, at first, to see any pattern at all. Hence we call it chaos and we shy away from it. We are afraid of it. Patterns that we know have a lot to do with the past, with what we have experienced before. This is why when we journey across the world we find some behaviour, rituals and interaction manners of different cultures chaotic and incomprehensible. However, to the people themselves, who have grown up with that particular pattern it is perfectly well organised and makes an awful lot of sense. Chaos is indeed what we call it when we are unable to see a pattern. Fear of chaos can then be seen as fear for the new, for the unknown. So let’s have a closer look at what the new could look like when all individuals are treated as equals and when every single one of them has got the right to do whatever he/she feels is needed at each specific moment in time.
Each person can do whatever he/she needs to do. So there are no set rules for social behaviour or education or healthcare or anything else. Now remember that every action of an individual will have a direct impact on his/her immediate environment. Because an individual life is unfolding within a small directly related environment, the impact in the first place is relatively small. It also means that one person doing something specific may get a hefty and opposing reaction from the environment, whilst another doing exactly the same thing in a different environment will get support. The same goes when we look at the timing of the action. What is not okay today may be well accepted tomorrow. So, in this concept, the “security” of the concept we know and have grown up with disappears. No longer will something be true or right for everybody and all the time. Everything will be directly linked to the moment and the environment. This would mean that every individual now will have to figure out for themselves what is the right time and what is the right environment. Each person will become responsible to find, for themselves, the right surroundings, the surroundings that match his/her own feelings and thought patterns. That way different communities will naturally form, consisting of individuals who will have similar solutions to the problems of life, of individuals who have similar priorities in life, of individuals who have similar outlooks on life. Within those small communities patterns will form and chaos will no longer reign. However, the patterns between communities may differ greatly.
The main change compared with the system we are in now will be that the group is no longer directly responsible for the individual. The group only identifies the lines that naturally binds them together and then leaves it up to the individuals within the group to make it work, together. If a person cannot identify with the lines of the group he/she is in, that person has to take responsibility for that and has to find a better match with another group. The group does not control the individual. The group has no power over the individual. The group safeguards the framework of what has brought them together in the first place.
Now we are into Freedom Territory!
And how can this come about? Only when individuals begin to change. Only when individuals begin to take more responsibility for their own lives. Only when individuals become more self-empowered. You start. And you start. And you. And you too. Eventually, when more and more individuals become more and more aware of what it truly means to grab more personal power and at the same time realising that another individual has that same right and that they don’t need to agree or do it the same way, it is then that the structure we have tolerated around our lives will change too.
We will live in a different kind of society as soon as the individuals of that society live their lives in a different way.