Friday, May 4, 2018

"Such are the Dreams" of the Everyday Citizen

What might the dreams and aspirations of the average individual, actually consist of? How do we really know? After all, we're most likely to be regaled in the media with the prevailing viewpoints of those who are well educated in a formal capacity. This, and the occasional reaction from those who expect to follow in their footsteps. Might it be possible to create more economic and social space, for the aspirations of the everyday citizen? Even for those who supposedly don't measure up to the expectations of societal credibility?

An old song which some of my readers may recall, inspired this post. Its lyrics strike me as unusual after all these years, for they go to the heart of everyday citizen first priorities in ways which aren't normally laid out so clearly. Even though life's most personal commitments are at times quite demanding; as we age, it gets easier to understand the rewards such commitments can hold. In spite of the personal freedoms one is expected to sacrifice for core relationships, there's the evergreen hope for a life not shot through with lonely solitude. From "Dreams of the Everyday Housewife", by Glen Campbell (1968):
She looks in the mirror and stares at the wrinkles
That weren't there yesterday
And thinks of the young man that she almost married
What would he think if he saw her this way?
She picks up her apron in little girl fashion
As something comes into her mind
Slowly starts dancing remembering her girlhood
And all of the boys she had waiting in line
Oh, such are the dreams of the everyday housewife
You see everywhere any time of the day
An everyday housewife who gave up the good life for me
When our core relationship commitments work out, they provide long term rewards for one's relative sacrifice of personal freedom. Nevertheless, we humans are complex animals - regardless of how anyone might try to simplify us through our social or job classifications. We are born with large brains, and a natural desire to freely explore in realms quite different from our core relationships. And while experiential consumption is valuable, personal experiential production is by far the best means to flourish. When it comes to freedoms vs commitment, we all benefit from life balance. Can't we come together, then, to rescue the economic freedoms we once took for granted? In today's economy, the freedom of intellectual challenge could also help preserve the viability of personal relationship commitments for all income levels.

The best outcome for any citizen, is when economic freedom also connects to one's ability to actively participate with others via the challenges of knowledge and skill. Some among today's elite are starting to enter dangerous territory, when they assume that the economic freedoms which are so important to them, don't particularly matter for the masses. Presently, too much of the work that is desirable and fulfilling, work which would be more freely chosen by all, were it not for the monetary barriers, is currently being hoarded in prosperous regions.

In all likelihood, the everyday citizen is not particularly in need of solicitous concern from others, re how they might better prosper by "trying harder" in their personal relationships. After all: For many, this area of life will always remain a high priority for personal success. Just the same, history has shown time and again, the struggles of the marginalized to build and maintain core relationships, when they lack the basic forms of economic connection that allow for personal responsibility and trustworthiness.

There's a good chance that the everyday citizen is not as lacking in intellectual challenges and aspirations, that others might assume. Let's not leave something as valuable as meaningful work, completely out of reach of the everyday citizen. Let's not allow the work that gives people real reason to enjoy their lives, to be hoarded indefinitely. Let's not assume that the dreams of the masses are only small and inconsequential, in spite of what some find so convenient to believe. In an age of knowledge based wealth and digital capacity, we are all bereft, if we allow meaningful economic engagement to be hoarded. There's simply no good reason to proceed under the false illusion that average citizens wouldn't or couldn't flourish, if they had the means and the gifts of economic freedom.

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