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December 18, 2008

I feel sometimes that my career choice is pointless.
Yeah, I can enjoy it, and teach people blah blah blah.
But then I read the news.
I read about habitat destruction and animal abuse.  I read about girls raped and denied contraception.  Stories of queers denied rights, and killed.  Torture in Gitmo and vets coming back to a dysfunction health care system.  The overarching theme in so many stories of science being misused or misunderstood.
Am I doing the right thing with my life?
These stories make me sick.  Literally, I’m often nauseated while reading the news.  I care so passionately about so many of these issues, and what do I do about it?  Occasionally give money to a cause.  Angry lj entries.  Emo away messages.  Now and then I manage to write a letter to someone who matters.  I went to zero protests and knocked on zero doors before the election and prop 8.  I get outraged here, and then promptly sit on my ass and do nothing with my outrage.  I’m too busy, and too poor.  I’m not a people person, I tell myself.  I’m not good at those sorts of things, and so I shouldn’t do them.  I should stay in my ivory tower and let other people try to solve the world’s problems for me.  I wasn’t brave enough to even apply for Teach for America, and that’s something I could do.
I’m just an old blow-hard, whining a lot about how the world is and doing very little to actually change it.  Why do I feel like other people are better suited to it?  That because I’m smart (hah) I ought to be in grad school, that I’m somehow obliged to use my intellect for science and it would be a waste of my talent to work for social change.
Inertia is a terrible thing.
I want to get out of here.  I want to spend six months on a mission, devoid of it’s religious contect.  I want to go to Africa and help AIDS victims, work at an animal shelter, or knock on doors for HRC.  But there’s my pigs.  I’d miss Erik.  I’m in the middle of a couple of projects at work right now, and Ara would kill me if I left work for so long.  I probably wouldn’t be any good at it anyway.
No wonder the world changes so damn slowly.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. December 19, 2008 1:12 am

    Maybe you could do something after you finish grad. Maybe Erik could go with you. Maybe just being aware of these things and spreading the word is helping to create change.

  2. December 19, 2008 3:37 am

    The rats and Yin are what stop me from running off and doing something grand and meaningful. Or at least, that’s what I tell myself.
    The truth is, is that you are not content to just sit back and let the world get worse. Even if you feel like you aren’t doing much about it now…I know you. You will find a way to have that meaning in your life. You won’t be satisfied without it.
    If not through science, then through the teaching of it. Getting a PhD is not a selfish career move. Being an inspirational teacher or professor is a HUGE help to society. Influencing how a generation views science…it’s amazing. Never underestimate your power to teach people that learning can be INTERESTING, and that it doesn’t have to be something you strive NOT to do, for fear of being “uncool” or bored to death. If more people were open to learning, then there would be many fewer problems in the world.
    And hey. I plan on doing something randomly crazy some day. Maybe after I get my masters? It won’t be for long. A few weeks, maybe a month or two. I need to find a program like that. But you are totally invited. Take a semester off after quals, and we’ll go save the planet for a couple months.
    Or if that falls through, well, you’ll have to do what I do – just promise yourself that you won’t be someone who sits on the sidelines. Look for new and creative ways to make the differences you want to make. I know you can make a difference. You already do. Just by speaking up.
    Basically…I know exactly how you feel. But don’t worry about it. Just push forward. The best way to make a difference is to follow your passions, and let them guide you towards being a positive change. Steve Irwin said something like that once. Don’t be afraid of pursuing chemistry. It is your passion. And that will lead you on the right path.

  3. December 19, 2008 9:13 am

    Yes. Everything is equally pointless. But that’s my point! The point to the pointlessness is to make a point to have a point. point.
    Ah, the world is full of people whom i disagree with bitterly. and I could run myself up a stress wall and internally debate why and how my view is the correct one (after all, i do see this one mindset trend among the educated). But…that’s the world for you. It will always be marching toward progress….very very slowly.
    What i’m trying to say basically…is don’t get too emotionalized about changing the world. You’ll drive yourself crazy. Just focus on what makes you internally happy. and if that means tackling the issues head on, good! I volenteered for the democratic party off and on this last year and i found it rewarding. But you just have to make peace with “small moves”.
    Eh. Not coming out right. What i’m trying to say is kind of abstract. but… Don’t focus you happiness on the change itself. Instead, try to find happiness within the ongoing change in human history. Know who you are and what you stand for. And live that message out loud and proud. True happiness is found within you being who you are. Everyone else finally coming around should be a bonus. Don’t peg your heart one the humanity’s tendency to be subject to their cultural biases.
    instead, rejoice in the small things….and aligning yourself with your own psychology.
    It’s hard to change the world…because you have to change people’s minds, hearts, and souls. and the only way to do that is through being yourself and performing small miracles. and the only way to do that is by being genuinly happy and having an uncanny understanding of your own circuitry.
    and if you ever are looking for religious context for the rational theist or non-theist, i recommend hallucinogens. With extreame caution and reverence. Intimatly getting to know your sub-contious and riding the waves of your brain are not as easy as they seem. (not like i would know, but someone who is not myself knows).

  4. December 19, 2008 9:08 pm

    Why don’t you do little things?
    I buy homeless people meals.

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