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Editorial: Thoughts on Independence

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Some Thoughts on Independence

by Morgan Jones

11 July  2002

I was not feeling very independent on the 4th of July (when we celebrate Independence Day in the U.S.A.). And I am not talking about fear of possible terrorist attacks.

Some definitions of independent from the American Heritage Dictionary:


  1. Free from the influence, guidance, or control of another or others.

  2. Not determined or influenced by someone or something else.

  3. Not relying on others for support, care, or funds; self-supporting.


With our country celebrating Independence Day last week, I have been thinking about the difference between freedom and independence. These are two very different things. Is independence a good thing? Should we celebrate it? Will it bring me happiness?

I cannot imagine living a life free from the influence of others, with no need for interaction with or help from my tribe.

I cannot imagine growing up without the love and care given me by my grandparents, my parents, and other adults in my family and community. Certainly as a child I was never truly independent.

I cannot imagine how I could have achieved the modicum of wisdom I possess without the tireless efforts of so many teachers who showed me the beauty of mathematics, taught me to speak a little Spanish, and introduced me to the magical world of literature and poetry.

I could not abide a world where the only songs that are sung are the silly ones I make up. I guess I have a deep and unending need for music
and that means for musicians and songwriters and conductors and singers.

I cannot imagine how I would have been able to raise my own children without the lessons and support given me by those people in my family and community who had already experienced the challenges of parenthood before me.

I cannot imagine how much different (and less fulfilling) my life would be had it not been for the gentle (but powerful) lessons given me by macrobiotic teachers over the past 8 years. (What they taught me, of course, is that my grandmother was right when she summed things up with her Yogi Berra-like advice:
We each have to take care of ourselves ... and everybody else.)

I cannot imagine living without the farmers who grow organic grains and vegetables and harvest kombu and wakame and arame and hijiki and dulse from the oceans. And I guess I rely pretty heavily on the truck drivers who bring this bounty to the grocery store where grocers make it available to me in exchange for some small pieces of green and white paper. How about the people who spend 4 years making the shoyu and 3 years aging the miso I use everyday?

Most of all, I cannot imagine why life would be worth living without the love of the beautiful and intelligent and generous and patient women who have shared their daily lives with me and who have been my most important teachers over the past 3 decades.

Is our country truly independent? Don't we need a lot of what the rest of the world has to offer? Don't we need the rest of the world to help consume what we produce?

Come to think of it, I have no desire for independence. I don't think I would be any good at it. It sounds lonely and isolating to me. I need other people for the joy they make me feel and so that I can know the pleasure of giving joy to someone else. Luckily I have never experienced independence, so I have not had to deal with the horrors I imagine it would bring.

But I love and cherish my freedom. I wallow in my freedom to think what I like and to pursue my own somewhat circuitous and peculiar personal path through the mysteries of life.

I have found true freedom through an understanding that I am the only person who can make me healthy and happy. I have learned not to fear disease because I understand that sickness (like good health) results from the choices I make everyday. I no longer fear aging or even my own eventual demise because I understand what I can do to maximize my energy and minimize pain and illness so that I have the opportunity to wring every last possible drop of fun out of every moment I am alive. Of course I have also learned that while I must accept total responsibility for my health and happiness, I could never find these things without a whole lot of help from a bunch of other kind and loving souls.

We macrobiotic teachers go to work every day because we want to free you from the limits and dependencies created by poor health and fatigue. We want you to enjoy the freedom that comes from having outrageously large appetites (note the plural) for life, and we want you to have the abundance of energy needed to actually get out there and make your dreams come true. Please come study with us
so that we can learn from each other. We want to help you see that you already have the intellect, judgment, and intuition to understand what it takes to be healthy and happy. And then you can teach yourself to become your own nutritionist, your own best doctor, and even your own best emotional and spiritual counselor and guide.

Or if that isn't a good enough reason to start or continue a macrobiotic adventure, please consider this. We need you to come and study with us to give meaning to our lives. We will be very grateful if you do.

Happy Interdependence Day, you all!


Peace, love, and brown rice,


Last modified: 02/21/05