Character & the Ownership of Property

I was talking to my old friend Jambeaux the other day and he was sharing his great new idea with me for a performance venue in his hometown called Graham Live!. To really get the essence of this exchange we ought to go back a few years to the old Original Musicosophy Band because Jambeaux was our lead singer.

Back in those days, you couldn’t have found a more carefree, happy-go-lucky individual than Jambeaux. All he ever wanted to do was to sing and write songs and perform for people up on the stage. Well, you can’t blame him; he can sing like a bird!

Over the years, his father began to decline and Jambeaux committed to seeing his Dad through to the end, nursing him through all his ailments. Slowly the time and commitment grew longer and more demanding until towards the end, Jambeaux didn’t even have time to perform with the band. 

So Jambeaux disappeared for a spell and during that time he begin to grow more philosophical about life and slowed down a little to ‘smell the roses’ as they say. Eventually the inevitable came to pass and Jambeaux invited everyone to attend his father’s funeral. And then Jambeaux experienced that right of passage where a person has no parents to turn to anymore.

After a brief respite, Jambeaux was thrust into the administration of his father’s estate and there he managed all the ins-and-outs that one encounters with probate of the will, family diplomacies, etc. No one really wants to go through all this but experience makes us a master of it and eventually Jambeaux and his sister decided that they wanted to move in and live in the house that they grew up in.

So they made all the arrangements with the other siblings and got busy and took on a mortgage for the remainder of the bills. They distributed the heirlooms and renovated a few rooms and before long, they were suddenly the owners of a sizeable real estate investment.

And so it came to be that Mr. Happy-go-lucky steadily took on more worldly burden and became a master of obligatory formalities: staying up late and balancing the books, working extra jobs when money was tight, chained to the desk on sunny days -you know the drill.

But I was talking to him one day about the benefits of ownership and he hadn’t yet discovered what a change it makes in personal agency, independence, and even social aplomb. Property (as Jambeaux had discovered) often outlives its original owners and so brings with it a certain gravity and presence in socio-political terms. One is rightfully a citizen without any property but property itself has rights which enhance the owner too.

This was several years ago and time marches on, especially when it approaches a social disruptor like the virus pandemic. And we were talking by phone just recently while he shared his newest project for a local performance venue (Graham Live!). So we’ve come ’round where we began, up-top.

I mentioned how his network of contacts from all the years performing (and his involvement with the theater) were valuable assets now, and that his experiential knowledge was valuable Human Capital. 

Then I tied in how his ownership of a local business includes him in an elite membership with the business community. All this, plus his property ownership, have worked together to synergize his aristocratic net-worth. Those who build the community and those who invest in its on-going stability are shepherds of the Sustainable Future. And so Society acts to shape and to hone its members, developing them as they help contribute to its sustainability (a sociological concept known as Reflexivity).

Character expresses itself through a context of some kind. In a story, the characters are developed via the plot. In Society, Character is honed through Reflexivity. And in Western Society, Reflexivity is accrued through the ownership of property. (or alternatively sometimes, through the lack of it)

Many writers these days are extolling the virtues of a strong commons (and rightfully so, for the virtues are many). At the same time, there seems to be a growing animosity towards the ownership of property; perhaps in response to inequalities of distribution alongside generational identity and its various idiosyncrasies. The gist of this appears to be directed at some perceived disparity in the arena of ownership.

I cannot help but be astonished at this perception when, considering the wildly egalitarian privilege of acquiring virtual assets (alongside the licensing and marketing of intangibles and intellectual properties), the affordances of everyday citizens to acquire and appreciate ownership has never before been so ubiquitous and thrifty. Couple that with the synergizing amplifications of personal branding, experiential knowledge, Human Capital, and Thought Leadership (plus a healthy dose of Desktop Publishing) and we are all richer than the many Kings and Monarchies that have gone before us; vastly more powerful; healthier, happier, and largely better educated!