It’s Time for a New Declaration of Independence

Robert Rodale’s editorial from the September 1976 issue of Organic Gardening and Farming about personal independence

By Robert Rodale


Your garden is your independenceWhat We Can Do
For the moment, though, let’s look at the positive side of independence. What could we do better if there was a national program to help people become independent, as individuals? Just as a start, I’ve jotted down a few thoughts, although this list could certainly be expanded and amplified.

1. If people tried to be more independent, they would begin to see more clearly what their real needs for support from others are. Now, most people take for granted the availability of anything they need, in the way of materials and services.

2. More personal independence would boost productivity. Not everything is done most efficiently in big, complex ways. That is hard for some people to believe, conditioned as we have been to accept the production line concept that equates bigness with efficiency. Home production, our Organic Gardening and Farming editorial theme for 1976, is only one of many examples of how independent effort can lead to increased efficiency. Much more production of food and services could be done in the home if there was a strong effort in that direction.

3. Independence would provide a resilient reservoir of strength in case of hard times. We're beginning to sense how vulnerable our complex economic system is to threats from within and without. The lesson of the Arab oil boycott has been lost, and we're now using more imported oil than before. If we don't begin to work for more personal independence, we'll be in far worse shape the next time a threat like that occurs.

4. Innovative thinking and action would be encouraged by more personal independence. Most large organizations today are actually afraid of new ideas, because they could make profitable products obsolete and disturb established business partners. People working more independently would open up whole new veins of creativity and thought, which are now being stifled.

5. More diversity would be provided in our culture. The easiest way to sense our lack of independence today is to travel around the country and see how alike all parts of America have become. We have gone national in almost everything, from food and beer to housing and entertainment. While that sameness is being justified now on the grounds of efficiency, it is cutting us off from the pleasures and pride of individuality.