Declaration of Dependence

The other day a friend of mine shared this profound aphorism from Nicolás Gómez Dávila which says:

Death is the unequivocal sign of our dependence.
Our dependence is the unequivocal foundation of our hope.

In 1993, a Canadian Supreme Court judge included the following statement in his decision:

“Although palliative care may be available to ease the pain and other physical discomfort which she will experience, the appellant fears the sedating effects of such drugs and argues, in any event, that they will not prevent the psychological and emotional distress which will result from being in a situation of utter dependence and loss of dignity.”


Here “utter dependence” is conflated with a “loss of dignity”, not the foundation of our hope.

How can dependence be understood in such diametrically opposed ways?

The difference, perhaps, consists in whether a person has anything upon which – or anyone upon whom – he or she can depend.

Is dependence the loss of our dignity or the foundation of our hope?

Each new child born into “utter dependence”, yet with resplendent dignity.

The child’s cry is a declaration of dependence. The hope is not for independence but for love.

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