I was a part of a discussion today about being dependent on others. It was related to a story an author was sharing about his car being totaled. This author, who is also an attorney, talked about how humbling it was for him to be dependent on other people for rides. He then discussed how that experience reminded him of how we should be dependent on God.
Simple enough, but it just nagged at me. Cause here we have this white upper middle class (if not upper class) American man who wrote an entire chapter on the experience of being dependent. For a ride. To work. While his very nice car was in the shop. Getting fixed. With an end date. And he could pay for his car. And when he got it back it would go in his garage. That is likely attached to his house. Which I know overlooks a lake. And he could use this same car to take his happy, healthy educated family on the vacations he talks about in his book.
Does this guy really know ANYTHING about dependency? I work with people on a daily basis who are dependent. They don’t have a car, and have no idea when they may ever get one. They are dependent on public transportation. Which means they are dependent on a job that is near public transportation and that has hours that accommodate public transportation.
They are dependent on a horrible health care system (physical and mental). They are dependent on minimum wage. They are dependent on cheap unhealthy food and free lunch at school for their kids. They are dependent on generosity and people looking deeper than their stats on a piece of paper. They are depending on a broken system and judgmental people telling them to “pull yourself up by their bootstraps” and “It’s your own fault” and “Get a job”. They are completely and totally dependent on the attitudes and assumptions of every person that crosses their path.
And these people, they are a small population in West Michigan, afairly generous, and service abundant area. There are areas of this fine Nation that has poverty we cannot even image. There are people in the Application Mountain area that are dependent on a mine not caving in on them every day. These people are dependent on keeping a job that will, one way or another, kill them. There are Native Americans who are dependent on the government giving them back what is rightfully theirs. They are dependent on the next generation to somehow break through the cycle of discrimination and oppression this nation has allowed. Every minority in this country is dependent on the majority looking past the stereotypes that should not define them and dependent on others to treat them equally.
The refugees in countries all over the world, that face certain death if they were not depending on another nation allowing them in. The resettlement camps all over the world that are dependent on wealthy nations providing them food, education and resources. The children who are dependent on being the 1 in 4 that will survive their first 2 years in a 3rd world country. The people who are dependent on the drug manufactures who are so power and money hungry they do not want affordable vaccines to be available. Therefore children, mother’s, fathers, citizens, grandparents, teachers etc are dying from preventable disease.
The innocent lives in war torn countries who are dependent on centuries old battles to be solved so they can take a bus to school without the worry of a suicide bomber. The innocent lives in war torn countries who are dependent on their city not being bombed by Americans who have decided THIS is the war we will stop.
The villagers who are dependent on rain to grow enough food for their families or to sell for school fees. The boys who are dependent on being the lucky survivor after their family is shot and killed and they spend months crossing a depleted wasteland with no shoes, food or water to arrive at an over crowded under resourced resettlement camp. The girls who are dependent on not menstruating so they can continue in school or so they can remain a child and not be handed off to be married at 13 years old. And these same girls are dependent on other people to decide if they will be genitally mutilated or not. If they will hide behind a burka with no choice or be stolen and sold into a brothel. These girls are dependent on their parents, their community, their culture for their safety, because the likelihood of them getting a) married as a child b) genitally mutilated c) trafficked d)sick from HIV, TB, Malaria… is so high because there are so many factors that influence their safety. Even when these girls parents want them to be children it many not matter because the culture or community has such a strong voice. Because it is so easy to kidnap a child. Because it is so easy to be stolen from your school or shot in your home or blown up by an extremist.
Do you see what I am getting at here? How in the world can this white, wealthy man even BEGIN to understand dependence because his car was totaled. And don’t get me wrong, I know a lot of white middle class people that really understand dependence. Like a parent who’s child has such a rare disease they are dependent on miracles in medicine to take their child’s pain away. There are people who are being abused and hurt so badly they wonder if they will live to see another day and are dependent on the mercy of their perpetrator to let them live another day. There are children that are dependent on the eyes and ears of the community to keep them safe when their parents can’t. There are people in prison, on death row that are dependent on a pro-bono attorney to fight for their innocence that the majority of their society is not interested in seeing because they are poor and maybe do drugs. THAT is dependency. THAT is what it really means to be dependent.
I am not going to touch on the “Dependency on God” metaphor, because I am pretty good at not being dependent on God and a horrible example of how to do that well, but if I was going to touch on it, I would say something like, “If we are as dependent on God as a rich American is dependent on his friend giving him a ride to work, then I don’t think God is very impressed.“