The Oxford Learner’s Dictionary defines self-reliance as “the ability to do or decide things by yourself, rather than depending on other people for help.”
One may try to sway this and ask how they could ever get anywhere or achieve anything without help from others. What is very clear about this definition, however, is the question of dependence. Meaning, one should seek help or advice of any sort when it is really and truly necessary but not to become dependent.
It is also very important at this juncture to admit and acknowledge that there are many aspects of self-reliance. It is also acknowledgeable that, in some aspects, there are phases and instances at which one may need to be reliant. For example, a child, for obvious reasons, must be reliant on their parents from the day of birth up to a reasonable age where they could be self-reliant.
A student may, to some degree, be reliant on the teacher for certain aspects. A country may be reliant on assistance from agencies or other countries for a reasonable period of time while it finds its feet and building capacity to stand on its own.
The problem is when it becomes a permanent condition of reliance to the point that it becomes almost impossible to exist without it.
The aforementioned should be obvious though, although there may be some who are highly questionable. The one that is the most underrated is the self-reliance in the mental and intellectual sense: the self-reliance on one’s thoughts, instincts and intuition, as well as facilitating this self-reliance through one’s own life experiences.
Self-reliance on the mind is even more important because it is the foundation of one’s view and perception of the world or life, as well as the life experiences thereof.
The world has gotten to the point where self-reliance of the mind is an uncommon occurrence.
This has mostly been assured by systemic conditioning of reliance on others’ opinions through the institution of academy, media and religion. This has manifested so well that it has robbed off of possible transformational ideas if mental and intellectual reliance was more left to the self.
It is sad to see, even in the world of easy access to information, individuals becoming nothing more than proponents of other people’s ideas, theories and ideologies.
What this eventually presents and creates is a situation that no matter how many accolades one may collect, it will be very hard to bring about any real and tangible transformation.
The attainment and acquisition of this accolades, unfortunately, becomes the end in itself but not as a means to influence or have an impact on the livelihoods of the state of a country.
This is mostly because, even in the study of a certain subject or field, one must constantly justify their findings and conclusions based on the theories of others. This becomes a limitation in itself because instead of allowing one to rely on their natural intelligence, instincts and intuition, one must rely on someone else’s theory, which may not even be comparable to the context of their daily life.
The worst is when mental and intellectual self-reliance is controlled and limited by financial gain. It becomes very hard for one to present and express a true reflection of their views, observations and perception for as long as it may conflict with their contractual obligation.
For example, an employee, after being tasked with an investigation, may not present the true findings if they have a high chance of organisational disrepute.
There is just so much at stake and the thought of, for example, not being able to make a monthly mortgage payment cannot be sacrificed for the sake of integrity.
By Karlos TheGreat
OSHIMWENYO is published every Friday in the New Era newspaper with contributions from Karlos Naimwhaka.