Our rugged individualism might just be killing us. While we’ve evolved at the speed of light with luxuries that make our life much more “simple” than our immigrant settler and conqueror “roots,” we behave as though we’re still fending off the elements instead of walking 20 feet into the nearest air-conditioned store. The value we place on independence flies in the face of a culture that requires interdependence to sustain itself, and we’re very quickly seeing the impact of that value, independence, being held in the highest esteem, in the highest offices in our country.Putting our backs up and claiming “I can do it myself” is a very common response to hurt and disappointment. Think only of yourself for a moment. When’s the last time you heard yourself say, “fine, I’ll just do it myself?” What about “if you want something right, just do it yourself?” We pull away, avoid disappointment or hurt, resent others. In time we shun human connection and show contempt for need.Yes, whatever your political beliefs, Senator Elizabeth Warren is correct in saying that no matter how independent, or wealthy, you are, goods travel on roads and rails that others labored to build. It is our underlying social contract that seems to be at risk when we flaunt “success” but detest need.We define bravery and courage as physical might and financial hoarding, instead of vulnerability. Yet, while we detest vulnerability, it is where our hearts connect, our defenses fall, and our compassion grows. It is where faith lives, and where risk is rewarded.I spend most of my time with individuals and families that have clawed their way out of such desperate circumstances, whether violence or substance abuse or profound grief. After being harmed in tortuous ways, they trust again. After being told they are not welcome, or eligible for services, they find the courage to ask again. When they are blamed for their own victimization, they stand up tall and share their story with others to try to help one person avoid their experience. As long as I witness their strength, I will forever know that without each other, we will not sustain.What used to be a discussion of who deserved “more” has become a discussion about who deserves “life.” I fear we are at the crossroads of our humanity, as a state and a nation. When the final social service agencies close and our health care system is accessible only to the elite, who will stand up and take in their neighbor? Will it be you? The test is not “some day.” It is now. Without a state budget, services are being provided “on a wing and a prayer” that the funding to cover them will come. If ever there was a need to shower your favorite local charity with “Christmas in July” it is now. If there was a time to call your legislators to demand a budget resolution, it is now. The time to make a difference is now. Sharlene B. Kerelejza is executive director of Meriden-Wallingford Chrysalis.