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Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Welcome to Life among the Ordinary, your home away from home!  This is a place where ordinary people may choose to gather in their pursuit of knowledge, exchange ideas and aspire toward mutual improvement.

It is here that we will discern the essence of the pursuit of happiness.  We will do this by attempting to disregard arbitrary, artificial or hereditary privileges, distinctions, influences or preconceived ideas.  The goal is to attain full, unencumbered intellectual and religious freedom of the mind, unconstrained by previous efforts to set authoritative ordering.  Absent these external influences and thus empowered, the mind can exist in a completely free state: to master its environment and attain its natural potentialities.  Central is the belief in the improvability of the human mind and the limitless progress of human knowledge.

Benjamin Franklin understood that democracy is not forever assured in America.  Active, informed citizenship is required not only to keep but also to help it evolve.  Thomas Jefferson was convinced that only a society which was enlightened was capable of self-government.  No ignorant people could truly maintain their God-given freedom.

But it is a fallacy to expect ordinary people to be overly reliant on the sufficiency of reason.  Too little allowance for emotions is estimated.  The passage of time has shown that more is needed to solve the ills of mankind than the accumulation of knowledge.  The evil within man’s imperfect human nature is at times grossly underestimated.

That being said, faith in human beings, the human mind and the spirit contained within the breast of each of us is honorable.  This conviction may have been Thomas Jefferson’s most enduring legacy.  To all who cherish freedom and reject tyranny in any form, his life provides an abiding symbol of the kind of hope that springs eternal.

Life among the Ordinary has been years in the making.  It presents a  rare kind of voice, independent and not owned, free of and unmuted by the influence of any party or commercial allegiance.  Bill Moyers has said our our democracy depends upon maybe just a few such independent voices.  This permits the freedom to tell a story through a different lens, using the eyes of an ordinary citizen within the constancy of our imperfect human nature.  Thus empowered, the lens possesses a natural ability to capture the spirit of American democracy --- and identify the cause of its unrest.

I don’t propose to have expertise with regard to the subjects we may touch upon.  Better to leave that elevated standard to intellectuals and the business titans.  Nor do I propose to add to the volume of scholarship continuing to be churned out by and through our institutions of higher learning.  Rather, ordinary status empowers me to make some interesting observations about the fascinating point where human nature and ordinary people come together to make history.

Life among the Ordinary celebrates the ordinary citizen’s many trials, tribulations and progress in the pursuit of happiness.  It seeks to contribute to the general understanding of the ordinary citizen, so that we can perhaps make better, more informed decisions in our daily lives.  The end result contemplates an army of ordinary citizens who possess a heightened sense of awareness to think critically for ourselves, to live with empathy, to learn to walk a mile in the other person’s shoes.

The theme is guided by a moral compass which embraces a sense of humanity’s purpose --- that we are here not merely to collect things and change money --- but to serve.  How can America apply this ancient principle to meet the challenge of our time and complete the great unfinished business of the nation --- achieving equality of opportunity?

As we attempt to aim higher, there is good reason for optimism.  The final destination is of course important.  But the journey supplies the richness by which our lives come to be defined. What is it about adherence to an incorruptible, disinterested "ethical obligation" that distinguishes the unselfish citizen from the mere hoarder of gold?

In a most positive spirit of warm and gentle felicity in tribute to the ordinary citizen, I welcome you to join us.

-Michael D’Angelo