People mostly want the same thing, and many of us already have it, but we don’t really notice it.
I have no way of confirming this, but I bet that if you could interview people across different centuries and cultures, asking them what they wanted most, you would notice a distinct theme in their answers.
Some people would want great riches or power. Others would say they want something very specific: to invent a particular thing, or for a particular person to love them, or to win a gold medal or give an Oscar speech.
But I suspect most of them would say they want something like this:
I want to be able to do my work and spend time with my friends and family, free to live my own values in relative peace. I just want a fair chance to pursue love and happiness, and a stable, humble life.
You could call this “The Peacetime Dream”, a life with the normal share of ups and downs—necessarily including heartbreak, health issues, setbacks and disappointments—but which isn’t defined by war or persecution. Almost universally, people want basic stability and basic freedom, and to someone who doesn’t have those things they are clearly the best things in the world.
But to someone who does have those things, their greatness is not so clear. It’s easy to forget, or never notice at all, that many or most of us already have this state of affairs, more or less—certainly most people who read blogs in their spare time.
It’s also easy to forget that many (or most?) of history’s humans never had the Peacetime Dream. I wonder how many billions of individual human lives have been lived under tyrannical regimes, forced servitude, or during a war or a plague, or maybe all of those things.
I don’t know what your everyday worries are about, but I often worry about things like my work being criticized, the difficulty in making friends post-high-school, the ease of putting on weight at Christmas, the advance of age, the murkiness of our tax laws, and the declining quality of consumer products. Read More