I’m telling you, it’s ruining us.

It destroys initiative, turns adults back into children, and keeps us from taking our lives into our own hands.  It steals our joy, makes us whiney, and causes us to rely on others for our own satisfaction.

What is it?

Dependence.

We have a growing culture of dependence (and dependents) that is poisoning us.  It calls individuals to look outside of themselves and beyond their own hands for their provision, protection, care, fulfillment, and happiness.

Looking to God for those things is proper and healthy.  Looking to God for our needs creates a “God-and-I” partnership, where he provides for you through work and opportunity.

But when we depend on other individuals and institutions to meet our needs, our initiative becomes warped and our strength atrophies over time, as we don’t have to use them.  Things that don’t get used eventually deteriorate.

There’s an ever-growing culture of dependence, and its the cause for many personal and societal problems we’re facing culturally:

- A shrinking minority of people actually pay for their own healthcare expenses, creating unlimited demand on a limited supply, so prices are rising (and have risen) drastically.

- We pay people not to work for 99 weeks with unemployment benefits.

- Young adults (up to age 30!?!) are staying at home and not joining the labor force at an alarming rate.

- Our young people have a ever-present need for affirmation, attention, and investment, or their self-esteem and outlook crashes down to suicidal levels.  (Believe me, I know this one.)

- We’ve become so dependent that the federal government has had to step into the healthcare industry, housing industry, food industry, auto industry, cell phone industry, and more; all to pay for things we want provided for us for free or at cheaper-than-market prices.  This, in turn has born a national massive debt of over $17 trillion!

This ever-growing culture of dependence is a toxic fungus growing over our society.  It’s destroying our finances, crushing our initiative, and slowly moving us from the position of “citizen” to that of a “subject.”

What do we do about it?  I’m not sure of all the answers, but I know a few things:

- I appreciate sites like ArtofManliness.com, who address this issue head-on with men on a regular basis.  Author and blogger Brett McKay calls self-reliance one of the “7 Manly Virtues” in the excellent book Manvotionals.

- Don’t wait for others for your happiness.  Go out and make it.  Don’t whine about not knowing what to do, or not being able to understand something.  The world is open to us without limits thanks to the internet, and information and knowledge is available at a cheaper rate now than ever before.

Understand that YOU are your limiting factor.  Dave Ramsey teaches this principle in the first lesson of Entreleadership, specifically as it relates to organizations.  It also applies personally.  Thankfully for us, we live in a [still, somewhat] free society.  We’re not subjects of kings, nor are we dictated to as to what we can and can’t do for career or for our own happiness.  If you lack something, it’s your own doing.

- Do things that work your self-reliance muscles.  Fix your own toilet.  Install your own flooring.  Go out in the woods and blaze your own trail.  Build something.  Start a class or Bible study that you want to see at your church.  Start a business.   Start anything.  READ.  Do those things that are hard to do, but in the end you have the satisfaction of knowing you did it yourself.

It’s an uphill battle to turn back cultural rot, but it starts with you and me.

What else can we do that will help address this “culture of dependence”?  How have you seen dependence increase in your own life?