Can you escape your origins?


The way that Stephen Downes framed this link to a Metafilter review was interesting:

As I prepared my slides for today’s short talk (we’re doing a round of autobiographies in our group – a good idea) I thought a lot about where I stand vis-à-vis the rest of society. Not as ‘respectable‘. Not as “entitled to… education, social standing, pay and political power.” I had to take each one of these, to wrest them from people of more deserving background. I had a lot of setbacks, a lot of battles. And you can never actually escape your origins, because to escape you must accept the values and assumptions of the ruling class, the core of which is that people from your class don’t belong in the boardroom or with polite company. I would never do that. As this author writes, rising with your class is the only thing that makes sense.

I grew up in a middle-class household in a poor, working-class, ex-mining area. That gives me middle-class ideals and expectations with working-class sensibilities. Most of the time that just means I’m continually conflicted about what constitutes ‘progress’ and the good life. I’m less ‘rising with my class’ than trying to catch up with them.

So no, I don’t think you can ‘escape’ your origins, but why would you want to? It’s an inextricable part of who you are. This all reminds me of Alain de Botton’s marvellous The Art of Travel which reminds us that the problem with going on holiday is that you have to take ourselves, with all of our foibles and our baggage, with us.