June 16, 2005 by Allen George
Responding To Erik
Really, Allen what is preventing us from going and doing something really helpful?
Erik von Harten
I don’t know.
Comfort maybe? We like our gadgets, standard of living and the familiarity of our present surroundings. Will either of us give that up? Day in, day out, do we have the conviction to give to others who’re needier than we are? Give without any expectation of receiving anything in return? Can we really imagine what it’s like to live in a place without any basic amenities, surrounded by constant fear and palpable hopelessness? I can visualize it but I can’t feel it. I have no basis for empathy. Sympathy yes, not empathy.
Is it fear? I too have a number of issues on my plate. And we’re not unique. Everyone has family, relationships, debts – the trappings of human life. And There are two ways to view these. t
Viewpoint 1. They stifle us. Their existence steers us into the tried and true formula: “Study. Get a job. Find your significant other. Have (or not) kids. Buy a house…” The stereotypical North American dream. Deviating from this path can have unforseen effects on your career, your relationships and your social status. I’m not sure many employers would understand a two-year break devoted to helping the unfortunate. That’s two years in which you’ve outdated yourself.
Viewpoint 2. We use them as convenient excuses. It’s easy for me to say “Well – I wish I could do that, but I don’t think I’ll get a job afterwards.”. I can justify my apathy so easily. The existence of debts and/or relationships are great incentives for inertia.
In a way I’m very glad you’ve brought this up. For the past three weeks I’ve degenerated into a solitary being; confined to my cave, I whittle away at my course load. I’ve had very little chance to consider anything beyond the next project, or even the next day. Is that part of the engineering curriculum, blinding a student with work? Put enough on their plate and they’ll forget that this wasn’t all they wanted to do?
You may not remember, but at Turner we had a conversation. One of us – I think it was me – asked “Is this all there is to life? We study and then work till we die?”
It’s late. I’m starting to brood.