How Are You Self-Sufficient?

This week’s question, “How are you self-sufficient?” is in contrast to last Sunday’s “How do you depend on others?” What skills, knowledge, or talent allows you to work on your own?

It’s difficult to imagine many people being entirely self-sufficient. We rely on each other for so many things, not the least of which is basic human companionship.

However, it’s also true that some people are self-starters. They naturally find a motivation to do things, without others showing them how.

Alternately, some skills or hobbies allow for self-sufficiency. If you can knit, you can make your own clothes. If you garden, you can grow your food. Musicians or writers can create their own entertainment.

In what ways are you able to stand on your own? To not depend on others?

Related questions: How do you depend on others? What makes you you? How do you judge yourself? What’s the most useful thing you’ve ever learned? How are you special?

 

Who Has Power?

In our society, it is the people who have power who manage to get things done. The type of power — financial, political, or even brute force — might change, but the use of it to accomplish goals does not.

We see examples of influence all around us. A business leader may use connections they have to make deals. Or someone who holds political office may use their position to enact legislation. Yet another example is a popular person exercising their social connections.

That power might be used for personal gain, or it might be used for societal gain. How it is used may be determined by the character of the person with the advantage. Conversely, there might be social or legislative checks on that power.

There is also a certain influence that comes from collaboration. One person may not be able to do much in isolation, but if that person can recruit a hundred others to help them, their reach can expand drastically.

Do you see power being used around you? How? Who has it? Is one kind more effective than another?

Related questions: Where does authority come from? Individual or society? What makes a good leader? How much power does an individual have?

Why Bother?

Life can be a real slog sometimes. We encounter obstacles, experience setbacks, and occasionally find ourselves over-matched. And yet, we are expected to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and keep going. But should we bother?

A single person can change the world. There are many different examples, from Gandhi to Thoreau, from Malala to Greta Thunberg. Committed, passionate individuals can make a difference.

But the chances that you will be one of those people is exceedingly slim. There are more than seven billion people in the world, and to stand out among that large a number is difficult indeed.

In addition, there are a number of powerful forces arrayed against you. Beyond individuals who have money or power and unwilling to part with it, there are powerful corporations, brutal dictatorships, and corrupt governments. There are economic, social, and cultural pressures that control our lives.

On top of that, the natural world is at work as well. One person, or even a community of people, have little ability to control or influence the weather, for instance. The best you can due in a storm is to try and stay safe and dry and wait until it is over.

With so much beyond our control, why should we try to control it? When an individual human being is buttressed about by other people, by corporations, by nature, by luck, what is the benefit of trying to assert control where there is none?

Tomorrow, we might receive a cancer diagnosis, or be in a car accident, or have a tree fall on our house, or see a federal policy you don’t like enacted, or something else that is beyond us.

How do we soldier on in spite of that? Why bother?

Related questions: When do you need inspiration? Is it a cruel world? What gives you purpose? How do you cheer yourself up?

 

What Are We Responsible For?

This Sunday’s question comes from regular reader Meagan, who asks: What are we responsible for?

One of the most important parts of become an adult is determining, and performing, your responsibilities. Paying your bills, doing your laundry, stocking your refrigerator, and so on.

However, beyond our individual responsibilities are the societal ones. Determining what exactly we, collectively, are responsible for is much more challenging.

In the first place, there is the issue of scope. Are we only responsible for ourselves? Our families? Or zoom out a bit. Do we bear any responsibility for our country, our species, or our ecosystem?

Additionally, there is the problem of impact. Should we consider ourselves responsible for something we have little control over? Do I bear any responsibility for the human race, when I have limited control over the vast majority of it? And how much responsibility do I have over my genetics, over which I have little control?

There is a fine balancing act in place in this regard. It can be easy to take on so much responsibility that it becomes impossible to act. However, feeling some sense of larger responsibility can lead to inspiration, which can lead to positive societal change.

How do you find that balance? When you think about your responsibilities, what are they? Do we have a collective responsibility?

Related questions: What are our responsibilities to others? What makes a community?  How much power does an individual have? What are you doing to make the world a better place? What is the greatest problem facing humanity?