Combined Resources vs. Individual and Independent Control

A single Douglas fir, Select Structural grade, 8 foot 2×4, used as a column, has the capacity to hold about 636 lbs.  When you combine two of these 2×4’s, instead of doubling the amount it can hold (1272 lbs.), the capacity increases to 4851 lbs.  That’s almost four times the capacity simply by combining the strength of two 2×4’s.

As with structural lumber so it is with people. This applies to social resources and physical resources.  When people combine resources they have the potential to accomplish so much more than the sum of the resources of the individuals.  This is one of the many benefits to the concept of the division of labor.  When individuals are focused on doing what they do best, and combine efforts, they accomplish much more than as a group of autonomous individuals.  Stephen Covey, in The Seven Habits of Effective People, called this synergy.  It is when people combine efforts to become more than the sum of the parts.

However, to combine resources in this way, the individuals must be strong and moral independent of each other.  In what Stephen Covey calls the maturity continuum there is a progression from dependence to independence to interdependence which culminates with synergy.  In order for people to combine resources in interdependence, they must first achieve a level of independence and have a strength of their own.  To attempt to combine resources without all parties being independently strong, you will either end up in a parasitic relationship, or in a co-dependent relationship, both of which are destructive.

One of the things that happen when dependent individuals combine resources is referred to as the tragedy of the commons.  The resources, instead of being put to productive use, does not receive sufficient maintenance, and is consumed by everybody without replenishing it’s supply or producing another resource to replace it.

Dependence assumes that maintenance and production are “someone else’s job” and take little or no responsibility for providing for its own needs and wants.  Dependence views the world in terms of available resources, and because it takes no responsibility to provide those resources, it sees those resources as finite and limited, and thus dependence is controlled by a fear of loss.   They are reluctant to share the resources they have, because more people is essentially more consumers of their resource.

Independence, on the other hand, takes responsibility for producing resources and as such they see resources as abundant and renewable.  They have no fear of loss because they know how to produce whatever they need.  They see people as assets – another source of production, thus decreasing the likelihood of running out of resources.  They are not afraid to share with other independent people.

In order to build a strong independent community, you must first start with strong independent families who choose to work together and combine resources to form a community.  Strong independent families are only accomplished by strong independent individuals who voluntarily choose to combine resources to form a family.

So one of the primary aims of any attempt at a solution to build independent communities is to help individuals and families obtain independence.