What is something someone else has done for you today? Did your significant other do your dishes or did your child take out the garbage for you so you did not have to? Do you know the name of the person who built the car you are driving? Who takes care of your animals or children while you are away at work?
People with disabilities are often seen as less than or weaker because it is perceived that someone with a disability requires more assistance than the person without a disability. Our society put the negative connotation on the idea, that someone may need assistance with a daily task to get through their day. What if we change our perception of this narrative? Instead, we see it as every person needs assistance from another person to get through their day and the only thing that changes is what each person needs assistance with.
This concept is called interdependence. Interdependence is the dependence of two or more people or things on each other. A basic example of interdependence is a supervisor and their employees. The supervisor is not able hold the title of supervisor without the existence of employees who needs supervision. Employees are not able to do their job effectively without the guidance of a supervisor.
As a society, whether we like it or not, we all survive thanks to interdependence. A person who uses a motorized vehicle to get from point A to point B needs the assistance of the factory worker who built the car so they can use it and the assistance from an auto mechanic to keep the car up and running. Given that the United States is an individualized society, is it often forgotten that we all rely on the skills of another person to get us through our day. In an individualized society, the idea of independence and being self-sufficient is celebrated while the idea of being dependent is shamed.
The irony is that not one person is truly independent from all other people. To be fully independent, one must have the skills needed to create the materials and goods they require to sustain their personal livelihood. To obtain all of these required skills, it is nearly impossible! One cannot simply know how to make clothes, work with electricity, grow their own food, and build their own house without the help from another person in some form or fashion.
With this in mind, are people with disabilities any less than a person without a disability? Does their need for assistance to get through their activities of daily living make them any less valuable to society? Every person on this planet brings something to the table and has impacted someone else’s life in some way or another.
Interdependence changes the way we think about independent verse dependent. So, let’s ask each other how can we help one another to get through our days?
About Isabella Bullock: Isabella, or Izzy for short, is an employment specialist for the Center of Independent Living. She is an iced coffee enthusiast who enjoys getting lost in a good book. Click here to learn more about Isabella.