There is not one comparable word in the American-English lexicon that has been so unjustly maligned or has suffered such undeserved degradation as the word “dependence.”

It has commonly been used by self-anointed, unqualified social critics, to ascribe to others, a certain category of undesirable personal characteristics such as insecurity, lack of confidence or immaturity. There are, of course, occasions where such negative observations may be warranted, however in general, we see the word “dependence” as embodying a healthy and even, vital, societal phenomenon and write this note in aid of the rehabilitation of this rather undervalued word and concept.

Because there is such a widespread use of the subject noun and its concept, we would, for practical reasons, and with the aim of avoiding a charge of encyclopedic intent, omit a great many of its applications. Thus, we exclude discussion of certain references relating to abuse of controlled substances and alcohol, co-dependent relationships, as well as financial and legal dependence, scientific dependence (cause and effect) and religious dependence. We also exclude universal dependence upon the occurrence of natural phenomena (such as daylight, seasons, ocean tides, and weather phenomena).

Certain objects of dependency are identifiable by mere mention. In this virtually unlimited category, we list for illustration, hospitals and health providers, the postal and banking systems, the media, transportation and other infrastructure services, public utilities, the military, the police, fire and sanitation departments, State, and Federal agencies such as the FDA, SEC, ICC, and countless others.

We are, inarguably, dependent upon our bodily functions, the clock, the uniform system of weights and measures, the telephone system, the monetary system, traffic regulations, our recollected preferences for food and drink, our cultural work constructs such as weekends, vacations, holidays, coffee breaks and societally approved traditions relating to engagement and marriage.

Among the myriad categories of (healthy) dependency we are, as in earlier writings, most interested in the subject of one’s interactions with others in society and, in accordance to the present subject, the dependent expectations of ourselves and others in our respective societal roles.

In the absence of reliable dependencies, we would predictably lead lives that are insular, lonely and without redeeming value. Dependence, often maligned and denigrated is a noun that makes possible vital societal interaction and the satisfaction of reliable expectation in human relationships of every sort, mundane or romantic.

Family and community roles and functional responsibilities are recognizably identified and expectations based upon such determinations are depended upon by the community. Individually, our self-image, developed from our personal aspirations, as edited by experience and community perceptions (see earlier writings) is also privately and dependently audited by ourselves for acceptable consistency.

So that we can, dependably, know each other, I will agree to be me, if you will undertake to be you.


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Retired from the practice of law'; former Editor in Chief of Law Review; Phi Beta Kappa; Poet. Essayist Literature Student and enthusiast.

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