18 May 2009

Menial roles, higher goals and social enterprise

The only family role that has been entirely my own choice is the one of wife. I enjoy married life because I am fortunate to be married to someone who likes growing older with me, as an equal, with similar values and interests. We are a team.

The angel one and I have different skills, personalities and backgrounds but we enjoy each other's company and are quite familiar with each other's minds.

Identity within families

There are many other family relationships in my life, some closer than others. They include being a daughter, grand-daughter, niece, aunt, step-aunt, sister, half-sister, cousin, sister-in-law, daughter-in-law, ex-step-daughter to my father's former wife, ex-step-defacto-daughter to the mother of my vaguely known half-siblings, and there may even be other family relationships I am yet to discover.

The people in my family address me in various ways, depending on my role, their own upbringing, and the nicknames they prefer know me by. None of them know me as Via.

Identity in menial work

Apart from traditional and not-so-traditional family roles, I have a range of ongoing unpaid work roles as cook, cleaner, washer woman, ironing woman, seamstress, gardener, furniture repairer, home decorator, counsellor, family historian, travel planner, budget manager, book-keeping and tax clerk, filing clerk, librarian, news service, purchaser, controller of food supplies, investment advisor, water monitor, energy monitor, caretaker, security officer, and provider of care. Fortunately, I have an unpaid assistant in the evenings and at weekends (the person mentioned in the first paragraph of this blog post).

Other unpaid roles I have performed in the past by choice include being a student, a charity fund raiser, a teacher, a course co-ordinator, a garden designer, an animal rescuer, a government advisor, a poultry keeper, a part-time foster parent, a conservation volunteer, a travel consultant, a film reviewer, a researcher, a magazine editor, a public speaker, a film maker, and a writer.

Some unpaid roles I have performed in the past have not been my choice, especially those that others have expected of me without my permission, such as provider of free information and advice, hospitality provider, and childcare provider.

Identity in unfulfilling paid work

Even some of my paid roles have been performed under varying levels of duress, especially those where money was my main goal. They have included being a farm labourer, a kitchen hand whose main job was to do the washing up, a waitress, a cinema usherette, a receptionist, a data processor, an audio typist, and a secretary.

Identity through higher goals

A higher goal is to produce something of lasting value to humanity (not just for yourself or your family). At the same time, it would be nice to receive an income for being productive. This is why social enterprise is such an important pursuit in today's world. It is not about being in poverty while meeting the needs of others. It is about creatively meeting one's own higher needs while helping others to meet theirs.

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