The current compact between the establishment and the individual is to choose between two extremes, neither satisfyingly complete. For the establishment this arrangement promises continual imbalances to exploit in order to drive the activities that feed unrelenting greed and aggrandizement. But for the individual this bargain is such a dispiriting illusion that the existing imbalances with their unpleasantness, both immediate and feared, cower imagination and divert the soul from the requisite resolute attention to unraveling the web and escape.
The choice presented to each school child, either early or late in their program of study, is to either launch themselves into a frenzied pursuit of the brass rings in their field to the exclusion of intimacy and freedom or to intentionally consign themselves to the low road, either treadmilling the stifling middleclass droneworld or dancing on the edges of destruction.
To keep these captives in thrall are the imperfections in information and existing artifacts, and the poor student/decider is rushed through the *realities* of being a grownup -- an economic scenario in which even the basics of life are unnaturally beyond reach, unlike any other earthly species. The cost of home and hearth is priced at a lifetime´s wage and both home and income are besieged by frailty.
For the brass ring pursuers there is no room for independence or ethics, only ascent to the heights of their incompetence -- and beyond if they can be driven. For the low road travelers there is no security nor golden opportunity for themselves or their children in the picture, only clinging to the fringes and self-flagellation to keep up appearances.
The most successful solution, when it worked which was not often, was for couples to band together in a union in which one played brass-ring-pursuer and the other played low-road-traveler, with each trying to compensate the other. The flaw in this arrangement is that it brings the destructive imbalances into the home and perpetuates the illusion while setting the couple up for mutual envy and the forces of dissolution, with each of them now getting less than half of what they had earned -- when their rights to the other half are withdrawn in the tangled realms of domestic courts and governance -- and vulnerable to the predators that thrive on the alone and the injured.
Alternative alliances -- both parties brass-ring pursuers -- reputed to be egalitarian have shown themselves empty of additional promise, having the same liabilities, or worse, and have mortgaged their children´s intimacy skills and happiness. In the turmoil however have emerged case histories of creativity, competence and fortuitous circumstance that delineate the areas of futility and possible promises. The validation of these nearly lost assets at least encouraged exploration.
Some have explored self-employment to escape the direction of the higher incompetents and to pursue development of concepts with alternative promise. But the more desirable those alternatives, the longer their startup, the slower their establishment -- especially in troubled economic times -- the more vulnerable, the more certain their apparent demise. Yet their promise was not the flaw in this scenario, the flaw was extrinsic.
Some have explored alternative communities where work and risk are balanced and shared. But the more freedom they built into the structure, the more likely their members were to run aground in individual economics; conversely, the more communal their design, the harder it was to organize and retain diversity. Yet the reduced drain on the individual for resources and time were demonstrable at the communities that made it -- another clue. Though many still keep this activity in play, the casualties are dismaying.
In an unusual twist -- addressing the dilemma before maturity --, and more successfully, some have explored versions of homeschooling, independent scholarship, distance learning and student-led learning where the student has the freedom and independence to become better deciders. The list is long, the most auspicious performances have come in the group now called unschoolers. But though they have thrived individually compared to the system and graduated into successful free-thinking explorers and mindfully confident deciders, they eventually arrive at this society´s threshold for the decision, but with a new suite of skills. Is their horizon still unchanged? Some differences are already apparent in their destinations.
What has emerged in the exploration of these pieces of a solution is the real first step in rebalancing the equation for the ultimate decision.... the home.
With a home that has no mortgage, or very little; a home that pays its own heating and cooling; a home that shelters its inhabitants from the increasingly extreme weather; a home that´s nearly maintenance free, provides basic foods ergonomically; a home that offers ample space, comforts, and delights of mind and sociability. With such a home -- yes, with such a home-- the family contentment, the meaningful self-employment, the freedom, the intellectual ethics, the artistic integrity, the civic responsibility, the community of friends is reachable. No exhausted brass-ring pursuer, nor harrowed marginal low-road traveler need you be.
Believe you that such a home is an illusion? Well, come
look and see where the reality could be yours, and prove that the bargain, the pact you were asked to sign, was the real illusion.