Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Little Boxes

Humming along with Malvina Reynolds’ catchy tune “Little Boxes” on my internet radio, for the first time I really listened to the words. “Little Boxes made of ticky-tacky and they all look just the same.”   Not only are the boxes identical, but the individuals living in them are identical as well:  “Then [off] to the university where they are put in boxes and they come out all the same.”  But if you went inside the houses, everybody’s would look different because everybody is different – a unique valuable individual with thoughts and feelings.
I imagine the residents of the little boxes as people who have worked their way up from poverty.  Steven Jay Gould’s family is an example.  “Papa Joe, [Gould’s grandfather] who possessed extraordinary artistic talents that remained undeveloped and underutilized, lived an ordinary life as a garment worker in New York City. He enjoyed periods of security and endured bouts of poverty; he and my grandmother raised four children, all imbued with the ordinary values that ennoble our species and nation: fairness, kindness, the need to persevere and rise by one's own efforts. In the standard pattern, his generation struggled to solvency; my parents graduated from high school, fought a war, and moved into the middle classes; the third cohort achieved a university education, and some of us have enjoyed professional success.” “September 11, 1901"
Shouldn’t  those who sing for ordinary people in songs like “This Land is Your Land”  congratulate rather than sneer at the ones who make it into the middle class?

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