by Lynne Koral
Ever since I was a child, my mother drummed into my head that I should be independent. What was the reason for that? I’m sure she meant that I could walk on my own, go to a “regular” school, and go to recreational programs on my own, etc.
I’m sure they wanted me to be on my own and think for myself. Independence means what, exactly? It was meaning that we would not have to depend on others for routine tasks such as mobility, or academics, or any other pursuits or activities. Here’s the problem, though. We still have to learn mobility or braille or any other pursuits before we can start to read, write, calculate, or walk and take a bus.
Everyone needs help from time to time. Anyone who thinks that we are supposed to be independent all the time, 24/7, is mistaken. I believe we need to be interdependent. We all need people we can trust. We all need to rely on each other. We don’t have to lose our independence in order to be mutually beneficial to others.
Even though independence has high-minded synonyms such as self-determination, autonomy, freedom and liberty, that is not the whole story. None of us wants to be told what to do as blind people. However, name one person who is not influenced by others.
Even when my parents touted independence, Dad would follow me to a store to pick up bread or some other grocery product as a child. I did feel betrayed at the time. I thought he trusted me, but clearly he was concerned about my safety and well-being. So, what do we do with this word we value so highly?
Independence is a word we esteem, so we can feel accomplished and proud of ourselves. Independence is how we feel as a community, to feel that we cannot be coddled or not have others make decisions for us. However, without the mutual cooperation of others, and working with others as we do in affiliates, and as an organization, how will we put forward our values, goals, beliefs and our identity as ACB?
I hope we can have independence and interdependence as well, as we are social beings and interconnected. We can accomplish our strategic planning and decisions as we go forth together. That is why we have an organization — so that we can work together to work toward mutually agreed-upon goals.