Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Informal Productivity

[This image is from]

Most recently, I have been having dreams... No. More like nightmares about what I am going to do with my life. Like most recent graduates the pressures of student loans, working a thankless job and a lack of intellectual stimuli have left me thinking about potential jobs. No. Careers.

I approached those that I hold in high esteem about this directional dilemma. Of course, they told me that the decision was entirely up to me. However, a dear comrade of mine said this:

"Briz, of all people you should know that you are not what you do in life but what you do for life" ... in so many words. He was right. Stepping back, I saw how the MAN was getting me at such a ripe age. There were so many calculated steps put in place to ensure that I would reach a point in my life where I would sell my soul and work for the MAN every night and day: Debt. A useless degree. Societal pressures.

By getting a formalized job, that means that I would have to work by the bureaucratic rules. For what? To make my parents proud? So that complete strangers would look at me in awe as if I were completely altruistic? Would having a home in suburbia with 2.3 children, a golden retriever and a minivan ever make me content?

If I may, dear comrades, I would like to say that 70% of the developing world's business is the self-employed. Formalized work has become for the elite. It can indenture people to be overworked and overrun. When the formal workers get home, they just want to watch their favourite episode of Blind Date that they captured with TiVo. Most of the formal workers that I have met hate Mondays.

As well, it is important to note that most NGOs and international charities work directly with commercial developers. So, when signing up for Habitat International or the Bill Gates Foundation one should be aware that there are hidden agendas for most of these big-name philanthropists. Not saying that they have not done some good things in the past, but there is always a monetary benefit to the superficial cost.

In the end, after the money has been drained from benefactors and southern African nations have been forced to use genetically-modified crops, people go home feeling like they did their civic duty. In this formalized setting, that's what it will look like, too.

I might just be writing these things to make myself feel better about 'not doing my part', but I believe that we should do things to do good, not just to look like we are doing good. Let's think about ways to better our world through an informal means. Travel, talk with locals, share stories, ride bicycles, spread the word.

You may not gain any recognition from friends and family. You may not be able to go out and get bottle service for a night. You most definitely will not be making six-figures a year (if you do, let other know how to as well). But, by not selling your values and morals (whatever they may be), you might just find peace in the chaos.

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