Audience Equality: The Challenge of Music, America, and the Marketplace

What you get is the refreshing opportunity for a breath of fresh air from a little band of rebels who spring up and utter something like the American Declaration of Independence. And this yields the opportunity to stare down every imaginable threat in defense of this dream of individual equality. Even the threat associated with going against the professional grain of American music in the early 21st century…

The opportunity and challenge of equality is simple. You begin by seeing yourself equal to every human that you can imagine, from the most highly accomplished to the least accomplished. That’s the vision part. Then you express and experience that vision in every encounter as you go about your day. That’s the practical part.

Challenging indeed, to see yourself equally equal to Presidents and homeless people; equally equal to those you serve and those who serve you; to those you care for and those you rather don’t. It sounds almost ridiculously impossible. But that’s the opportunity of America and in one sense it’s actually very easy to witness in real-time because we are all equal in a most fundamental, undeniable sense – we are all I.

That’s not a Roman numeral one, it’s the letter “I”. Clearly you are I because you express yourself from the I-perspective, and you experience your life from the I-perspective. Everyone does. You cannot possibly have the experience of being other than I, nor can you express yourself as other than I. Nobody can. And so suddenly, wonderfully, there is tangible, inescapable truth to the philosophical observation that there is no other. Not only inescapable, but practical and actionable.

So the simple truth is that everyone is wandering the earth dreaming “The Dream of Just As I Am”. If there’s a common dream of humanity it has quite a bit to do with being accepted and listened to, loved and allowed to be “Just As I Am”; just as we be in the ongoing moments of human interaction that comprise a life.

That’s it. It’s all about you, really. There’s no need to project the opportunity of equality onto the globe and fret over whether 7 billion people have the same amount of stuff. Play your part. Simply move out into your world every day and see everyone as your equal in this simple, profound sense of equality. And as a professional bring this vision with you and treat everyone as equals in the marketplace.

If you can’t see yourself equal to everyone at every turn then you don’t really believe that we are all created equal in this life and we are all equally valid creators of our lives. Equality to you, like most Americans and musicians, is a goal because you do not hold the truth of individual equality to be self-evident. It’s okay. I understand because my vision has been thus blurred in the past. It can even appear justifiable to argue for inequality.

But that is a very dangerous argument because if you do not recognize meaningful individual equality then you do not recognize that you and your fellow citizens “…have been endowed with equal right to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”. The whole individual freedom thing screeches to a halt and the world is not a very fun place to be. And when, like hundreds of years ago, the world is a big place where people are not being regarded as equals and treated with due respect you get… you get… oh dear, this is a little funny. What you get is the refreshing opportunity for a breath of fresh air from a little band of rebels who spring up and utter something like the American Declaration of Independence. And this yields the opportunity to stare down every imaginable threat in defense of this dream of individual equality. Even the threat associated with going against the professional grain of American music in the early 21st century.

Perhaps you will be in that rebellious little band. 

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