Two things have spurred me to this line of thought, to my explanation of my choices.
The first, I was questioned by someone whom I know. The following conversation is recreated to the best of my knowledge and most likely is influenced by my emotions from the moment, so I am attempting to make the questions as innocent as they almost were. He asked me what I was studying, which I responded in kind, "I'm studying the Middle East, Islam...Arabic. My major is Middle East and Muslim World Studies and my minor is Arabic." -"Why?" "What do you mean why? Because I want to?" -"Yeah, but what can you do with it? Why study something you can't do something with. I mean, like, what can you do with it?" "I can do a lot of things with it. If I wanted to, I could make a lot of money, but I don't want to." -"Why do it then? What are you going to do if you're not going to make money?" "Exactly what I want, work in the Middle East, non-profit work, ESL, whatever. I don't really care if I make a million dollars." -"I guess I just don't get it. I am not trying to be mean."
The conversation continued, suffice to say, he didn't understand why I wanted to study this, work there. I do, because that is what I enjoy. He told me that no one enjoys their job, that there is no job that someone will always enjoy. Obviously, there is nothing that people will ALWAYS enjoy, at every moment. In the end I asked him, "What you're saying is, because I am not going to always enjoy my job, I should study something and choose a career that will make me a ton of money, because, if I'm going to hate my job, I might as well pick a job that will make money?" I was baffled.
The second, I was reading Sarah Shourd's article after being released from prison. I confess, I did not finish it, because I am here. In it she says, "I fervently believe that everyone’s efforts led to my freedom, everyone’s belief that the world contains as much goodness, and as much justice, as we create and put into motion. Not an ounce more or an ounce less." She is referring to the work people did in getting her, and doing to get her friends, out of prison. This single paragraph stuck out to me. It connected to me.
Now, to truly answer the meaning in his questioning, I am doing what I do because I think it is necessary. I feel the need to work there, to represent a people poorly represented. I do this because if I do not, then that is one less ounce of good will, of intelligence, of respect, of curiosity, of respect that is shared. I must do my part, because the "world contains as much goodness, and as much justice, as we create and out into motion. Not an ounce more or an ounce less." We are responsible for this world. If everyone just worries about making money, and not enjoying themselves or learning about the world and sharing themselves with the world....we will live in a sad, lonesome world.
I refuse to let that happen. So, I do my part.