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Saturday, December 11, 2010

Letters To My Son: The Myth of Independence


The Myth of Independence
Dear Misael,
There are many myths that have been passed on without anyone questioning them.  One of them is the myth of independence, well, at least this is what it appears to me after examining the evidence.  There is this idea among young people your age that independence equals freedom.  Once you turn eighteen or twenty-one, you are absolutely free.  I know that what they mean is they are no longer bound by silly laws parents make such as curfew times and other limitations capriciously set by them (at least that’s how they see them).  They dream of the day when they will be able to make all the decisions by themselves.  They want to be independent to choose the friends they want without anyone telling them if they are good ones or not.  They want to choose to go to places without anyone telling them whether they are appropriate or not.  I am sure you don’t believe all of this.  You have heard me say what it means to be independent.  But I want to go a bit further than that. There is a sense in which at a particular age we become mature enough to make decisions and be on our own.  This is part of the process of becoming an adult.  Nevertheless, I think we fail to see that what we call independence is not what it appears to be.  Let me just explain what I mean.  When we are born we are totally dependent upon our parents for everything.  Then as we grow and develop we move to independence but at the same time we become interdependent.  What does this mean?  When we become adults we don’t become totally independent, to do this, we would have to live alone somewhere.  What we mean is that we can make decisions on our own but at the same time we start creating a network of interdependence.