Global Citizens

I’ve been thinking quite a lot about just who I identify myself with. Do I identify myself with white middle class families in my neighborhood? Do I identify myself as an American? Do I identify myself as a college student, as a writer? And more importantly, who should I be identifying myself with?

Well, in some ways I think I identify with all of the aforementioned groups. They are, in essence, what defines me. If someone asked, who are you? or what do you do? I’m sure, depending on the situation, I would respond with at least one of those categories. But I’m not so sure that approach is a good one. Again, should I identify myself with those groups? Am I more than that, and is it detrimental for me to put myself in a box, labeled “writer,” “middle class,” “American”? I’ve been contemplating this question, and I am looking for some help from you, questioners.

My thoughts are that I should be identifying with something greater. I do, sometimes, think something is lost when we confine ourselves to what we do, where we are from, or what we like. I think, rather, we should identify ourselves as a sort of citizen of the world. I think this mental leap can make quite the difference. If we simply identify ourselves as Americans, it is easy to not care about what is across these arbitrary lines, what is across the sea. We just think, we have plenty of problems here to worry about. And that goes for any nation, any boundary, and sort of identification. I think this sort of mental shortcut is very detrimental. If we identify only with our country, or only with white middle class citizens, it is so easy to push to the back all of the other problems because we are only accountable for our groups.

There are obvious flaws to this, though. It makes sense for one to identify with the group that s/he is apart of and thus advocate for that group. I mean, if we advocate for our country we are benefiting in a very direct way, whereas we are advocating for a foreign country, we don’t see the outcome of our assistance. Moreover, it also makes sense to want to benefit those closest to you–those are the ones you see being harmed, not the small children in the third world countries.

So the question is, what should we identify ourselves with. Does it even matter?


A Good Job

We so often hear people say, “You have to go to school and get a good job!” But what does this really mean? What is a ‘good job’? And why is school inextricably connected to this mystical ‘good job.’ More importantly, what is a bad job? I’m not too sure, but I sure as heck know that I don’t want one of those! And that’s the problem. How do we avoid something, how do we aspire towards something, if we don’t even know what it is? It’d be like venturing off into the forest, and, well, just trudging on. We don’t know quite why, but something good is ahead, and something bad is farther and farther behind us.

So the big question is, what is a good job? Well, one of the first things that pops into my head is money. Money, oh money, those alluring pieces of paper on which our dead presidents sit so stately. And I think it is fair that one thinks about money foremost. I mean, it’s everything we know. It is what runs the world. We want to accumulate more and more because it increases our power, and it gives us quite the nice ego boost. I think this is what your great aunt Ethel is saying when she unthinkingly blurts out, “Go to school! Get a good job!” between her bites of rice pudding. I think what she is really saying is, “Go to school so you can get a job that pays well.”  And I really doubt she is trying to say, “Go to school so you can set yourself on a path on which you can take, a path that can lead you to a happy, fulfilling career, and thus a happy life.”

But even this response would still be hard to digest. In it, another question arises. Are you ready questioners? What makes a career fulfilling? Well a career is really a dedication of one’s life to something. I sometimes wonder if being a middle manager is something worth dedicating one’s life to. Sure, they get paid well, but is their life fulfilling, or did they just go to college to ‘get a good job’? I don’t know, and who am I to judge, but I think a fulfilling job, to me, would be something that made a lasting impact, something that would stay around and continue to benefit people when I’m gone. Our time on this earth is so short. It seems futile for me to chase paper my whole life. I mean, what will I have at the end? A fancier grave than the animal activist buried next to me? But whose life was worthwhile, a life worth living?

But for some a monetary pursuit is much more appealing. Because what you leave behind is not just that fancy headstone, but a well-endowed family. And y’know what? You probably had a heck of a better time on this earth with all of that money.

So I guess finding a ‘good job’ is just finding out what fulfilling really means to you. I’m not so sure what it means to me. I think I’m stuck somewhere in between both extremes. Do I want to be poor forever? No. Do I want to make a lasting difference? Of course.

So now I leave you with the same question I posed earlier: What do you think makes a job fulfilling? Does it have to be well paying? Does it have to be altruistic in nature? Why’d you choose your job? Do you regret it?