Monday, March 21, 2011

To Help

To quote Bre Bishop, "What is this? Where am I?"

Hai y'all.

I've decided I want to do something important with my life. I want to rise to the challenge. It's never been necessary before but I feel ready for it now. Just a couple short years ago the thought of graduation made me quake in my boots, but I'm not scared anymore. I'm rarin' to go. I don't want to wait and wither and waste.

I don't hate Maryland, I don't hate my friends (quite the opposite, in fact) or acquaintances, and I don't even hate my school, really. I'm just done with it. In actual fact, it's difficult to convey how much the notion of trudging through another year of high school depresses me.

Anyhoo, the point is that I'm seriously reconsidering my future. I still want to go to college but I don't want to stay in this tiny little cocoon of a life. I need to become a butterfly. This metaphor needs to stop. That's how it goes. The thing is, I've realized that the last thing (well -- after, like, a math degree or a plethora of horrible career paths, really) I want to do is to earn a degree in Learning how to Analyze Literature and Speaking Pretentiously about it*. It's not even that I have disdain for artsy degrees. Actually, if you want to go be a history of philosopher major so you can pursue your sole job option, being a history of philosophy professor, go right ahead. That cycle won't work for me, though.

I'm so out of touch with problems in the real world. I mean, Libya, Egypt, Japan -- the latest country with a crisis -- they're just concepts, really. Sure, I feel enraged about murders in one and deaths in another but I can easily close a depressing web page. Sure, I can donate a few dollars and feel like I've done something, but I haven't got any closer to the problem. Do you know how I feel, how I honestly feel, about Libya right now? Not disgust, not shock, not horror. I feel annoyance. Yeah, a video might ignite some more passionate feelings for a few minutes, but overall, I'm simply fed up with the regime there. Rather than feeling horrified, I feel like I want to kick Gaddaffi in the balls for being such an asshole. And do you know why, the actual, only reason why? Because I see horrible things portrayed so often, in fiction, in the news, that I become desensitized to it. It's not that I'm emotionless; it's that horrible, awful videos have little long-term effect on me. I know that this brutality here or that natural disaster there is terrible, but I can't feel moved enough to really, truly do something to help. I feel like, sometimes, there's little point of helping this one disaster relief, because something worse is going to happen a week later anyway. That reaction scares and angers me to the point where I feel that I'm only ever going to be truly happy with myself and I'm only going to be worth my place in the world if I actually go out and do hands-on work with real, live people. I don't want to sit behind some desk somewhere and write pamphlets about how we should do this-and-that. I want to touch the hurt. I want to put the bandages on using my own hands.

Raising money is great. But it doesn't really put me any closer to helping people. I might do a walk-a-thon, I might start a bake sale, but what am I doing, really? Am I making any sacrifices? No. Am I innovating better technology? No. Am I interacting with people in need, realizing that they're the ones in charge, not some omnipotent western savior? No, I'm not, and that's a problem.

However, it's incredibly important that I don't patronize, invade, influence, coerce, overstep boundaries in the process. (I'll elaborate on that on Friday.)

*I apologize for mocking you, English Lit degrees. You're not even ridiculous, really.

1 comment:

Alex said...

I didn't comment on this originally and I regret that but here I am now!!

I don't have a whole lot to say other than that I value you and the fact that you are thinking seriously about this. I am so happy that there are other people out there who look critically at their future and question everything.

Restoring Alex's faith in the future of humanity = win.