I wonder what underlying message is being derived from the “be all you can be” type of advertising campaign I see more and more?
The ads I see regarding this concept of anything being possible are images of astronauts, doctors, athletes, etc. When the ad is over I look at my life and could be tempted to wonder if I have lacked courage for a bigger dream? I could have been a humanitarian aid worker risking my life to get food and water to starving peoples across the globe or rallied for needed change in government or society. I could have chosen a career that would have been one of the highly esteemed professions which are set in relief to the more mundane jobs not shown in these ads. Was I wrong not to? Have I let down the human race because I didn’t sign up for one of those marathons? Have I settled for less?
My choice was to be a homemaker. I do think it would have been an enormously better decision to have gotten a degree first, but I do believe I followed my heart and my passion. Settling for less could have only happened had I not taken full advantage of the opportunities I wanted to pursue. (And there were times when I settled) The occupation itself, however, isn’t indicative of aspiring to more or less.
By not including images of construction workers, service industry workers, homemakers, etc. we may be sending an unintended message that these are somehow jobs that people without big dreams settle for. Of course, it is absurd to think of a world where everyone is an astronaut, right? Maybe the thinkers behind these commercials are visionaries who see paradigm shifts ahead for our children and want to prepare them for that changing context. The work force of tomorrow may look very different from that of today. I don’t know. We can’t ignore the changing face of society and what it takes to be a productive member. It just seems as though the message isn’t complete and leaves room to be misinterpreted. Maybe instead of offering specific occupations as examples of the goal, we need to find a visual way to compliment the concept of developing good character that enhances the world in all of the jobs we do.
There also seems to be this implication that unless you do something worthy of the history books you may not have dreamed big enough. I believe it is important to take this journey of discovery wholeheartedly and to refuse to be held back by circumstances. There is a great message in the ads about not letting anything hold you back. That is important. Circumstances can be hurdles. One’s situation can also be vital to the revelation of who we are and why we are here. One child’s circumstances may lead them to find a cure for cancer while another child in challenging circumstances finds life’s meaning by doing things locally that go unnoticed by the world at large. Both are enormously valuable.
There are people in uncelebrated hourly positions who make a profound difference by being at the right place at the right time with the right attitude…but we don’t see them on the poster for the “follow your dreams” campaign.
I think there is a greater message we zoom past in an attempt to convey a huge concept in a 30 second sound bite. And that is this:
The flame of your passion may indeed burn the rocket launchers that blast off into space. It may light the campfire around which aid workers comfort themselves as they care for others around the world. That flame may come, as from a fire breather, through the message of a great motivational speaker.
But where is the mention of the fire that burns strong and steady in the hearth of home? The dream of mothers and fathers to provide a stable and loving foundation for their children instead of seeking public acclaim or poster-like recognition? Big dreams and great visions can be humble. The world could use a bit more humility perhaps. The examples used in tv ads are easy to sell. But the sacrifice, hard work and determination to provide a good home…not as glamorous. It has become much more difficult for a parent to be the primary care giver for their child, calling out to society to produce extraordinary child care providers, for example.
We each need to find the big dream inside of us…our purpose for being who we are at this time in history. We may live a few dreams along the way as the seasons of life change. I would love to see some great ad campaigns that include images that broaden this vision quest for young minds.
My picture may not hang in a hall of fame but if it hangs in the hall of my child’s home and makes them smile and feel stronger because I was part of their life then I have achieved an awesome goal of mine. Obviously homemaking is the example I connect with. Maybe your picture hangs on the dashboard of a taxi cab where you help people make the connections to their life’s purpose each day. It takes all of us doing whatever we do with passion for the vision of making this world a better place one opportunity at a time using the gifts and talents given to us.