The Irony of Independence: Dependence

For a week now all eyes and ears have been on Rio de Janeiro and the 2016 Summer Olympics. As competitions have taken place in a variety of disciplines, the greatest focus has fixated on the race for the most medals. Although the outcome should not be a surprise if you watched the parade of athletes and saw how the teams of five countries dwarfed most of their competition.

Those five largest teams in terms of individual athletes (United States-552; Brazil-475; Germany-420; Australia-416; China-400) make up only 2.5% of the number of countries, yet comprise 20% of the individual athletes. Only 34 of the 205 competing countries sent teams numbering in the triple digits.

In essence, these numbers tell us that the world is fascinated by a competition that doesn’t really exist. While the individual events are indeed competitive, the overall competition for medals is no competition at all. As of right now, the United States has more medals than many countries have athletes, which means they never had a chance to win the medal race. These games give a sampling of the power struggle that currently exists on a global scale.

The Desire for Independence

The power struggle that exists is rooted in the desire for independence. To be independent though means to be free from the influence and impact of others. In the case of cultures and countries then, it requires self-sufficiency to the point that there no longer is a need to be dependent upon others.

In the current status quo what we see in this struggle for independence is dominance. The only way to be truly independent according to the cultural mindset is by dominating others into submission.

The Irony of Independence

As the desire for independence increases, the irony of it is lost on people. In fact, a look at what takes place reveals several facets of independence that deny the philosophy of independence.

Independence has come to the point that it is now considered ‘a right’ by many groups. It is declared that all people deserve to be free from the influence of others, able to rely upon an established norm found within themselves. This mindset though fails to consider that the domineering behavior that accompanies the fight for independence denies others that same right. Take for example the debate between California Senator Ricardo Lara and religious educational institutions. This week he announced his intention to reconsider his controversial bill that would suspend support and allow law suits against schools who failed to recognize transgender identities by making appropriate accommodations (note that he did not completely rescind the bill, but rather is reconsidering it implying that he will reintroduce it later in a different way, perhaps to make it more acceptable to those who pushed back over the last several months). Supporters of this bill fail to recognize that their call for independence is denying others their independence. That’s the first irony.

There is a second irony here though. Independence actually creates dependence. To be truly independent there needs to be cooperation with others. Upon the United States declaration of itself sovereign a battle ensued, with swords and words. That (literal and figurative) declaration of independence required the collaboration of many men and women.

The Denial of Independence

Finally, independence denies the dependence that every human has upon God. Whether it is acknowledged or not, the existence of every person is tied to God. God is both creator and controller of creation, thus independence in the desired sense of the word can never be achieved.

In fact independence denies the basic principle that man is created to function within fellowship. Genesis begins with the creation of man and woman so that they would not be alone. The New Testament calls for the fellowship of believers within the church. The entire Bible builds upon the need for man’s fellowship with God. Therefore, independence is rebellion against God at the most basic level.


The ‘struggle’ for independence is tied to one’s dependence upon God. Apart from God’s sovereign control, even the appearance self control can never occur. Thus, despite the constant battles to be independent of one another, to reign supreme, the sustainment of life is built upon dependence. Independence is then is actually being in dependence.