I’ve spent the past few months, since my contract in the financial sector expired and I decided to reposition my career path but I was unable to do so because my health had been deteriorating, thinking about this phrase. Considering that I am unable to do a lot of things I used to, and what that meant for me personally. After all, everyone wants to be productive members of society, we all want to contribute, to make a difference.
The feelings of ineptitude that bubbled up made me feel helpless. So, what did I do? At first I overanalyzed it. And then I felt despair. That feeling that you are worthless, unworthy, even a poser. But then, as I often do, I rationalized the situation. And watched a lot of Netflix in the process, but that is another issue that has a lot to do with my tendency to procrastinate.
I remembered something an old, dear friend of mine from my college days in Boston once told me when I said that I was considering a teaching career – a teacher, she told me, is one of the most noble and admirable professions.
So, why are those that pass knowledge and thinkers looked down upon and considered inferior? Well, it could be a consequence of the way our society is set-up. We praise wealth, tangible production, entrepreneurship and innovation, elevate fame – sometimes achieved for all the wrong reasons. And consider everything else to be a lesser existence. It is no surprise that the goal of many young people (and some older people for that matter) is to “make a diffence,” something accentuated by the prevalence of social media and the imposing of fragments of their lives.
First things first. Success does not come without failure. Even if your first attempt at something is a success, chances are you will still falter at some point. It’s just a matter of how you prepare for and handle a downturn.
Secondly, and more importantly, there is no lesser job. Just like there is no lesser existence. We exist in a complex system, and every single cogwheel of that system is important. Consider the lowly ant, or the bee, or someone teaching young kids how to be productive and, more importantly how to deal with adversity and adapt to situations without collapsing under pressure and the complex emotions that come from living in a society.
But, because society and culture is set-up in such a way, we often ignore the latter two. Education systems in much of the developed world are focused on the transference of only information that will be useful in the development of young people – as I recently realized as young as 6 or 7 – as a mode of production, like modern economic theory dictates. Society promote brutal competition and zero-sum outcome theories (Hobbes,much?), demeans anything and anyone not financially successful. Considering any form of need for assistance and compassion to be a burden on society (Hitler, much?) Parents are sheltering kids from the negatives of this world, and in the process create humans that surrender way too easy or are susceptible to refusing any form of change. Philosophy, art, and character development are overlooked.
I am old enough and wise enough, maybe not nearly educated or eloquent enough as I would hope to be, to realize that there is no easy fix to this problem. I don’t even expect the majority of people to agree with me or be prepared to discuss this. Not even the majority of my friends (although I am reservedly optimistic). But this is my two cents in this discussion – I can no longer produce at the same level I used to, so I will pass on knowledge and rational thinking, the ability to adapt, compassion. Considering that, I am producing, I am doing, I am still worthy.