Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Who are you and what do you love?

Seriously, why is the first thing people ask each other some question related to their job. Like, really- a job is what we do for money and sometimes it has to do with who we are and our interests but really, to know someone it takes more than a question about their current employment status.
Especially in this kind of economy. I guess I'm sensitive about it because I've been without formal employment since December and that really gets to me. I'm not an irresponsible individual- I do have goals and passions and direction but when there aren't jobs, there aren't jobs. It's been tough and while I haven't been doing nothing- I've taken classes, read good books, volunteered at several places, improved a lot in my art, and built good relationships- it's still hard to tell people I don't have a job. And I wish people wouldn't ask so much. I wish they would ask- what are your passions? What drives you? Who are you? What do you like? There are so many more interesting questions than "What do you do to put food on the table?" And I realize a person's job is often very connected to who they are, because jobs shouldn't be just about what gets you food on the table, but in this economy it sometimes really is.
So I'm really challenging myself to look at people from a different perspective than their employment and ask questions more related to who they are than what they do.
Part of this is my insecurity at not having a job but I think there's something deep God wants me to learn about these hard past 3 months. They have been pretty awful months, and I've hated them, to be honest. But holy cow have I grown and learned.
And now I have been offered an awesome job doing something I will absolutely love for a year, but I really do not want to forget the lessons I have learned from these past 3 months about the worth of a person and where it comes from, and the need to ask questions that reflect my values and not the world's values. Often people who have changed the world have been quite poor and quite awkward in the world's eyes. Non traditional people who didn't give a hoot about what people thought of them. I don't want to pass those kinds of people up in my life, just because I ask them the typical questions, and just because I got to know them on the surface.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Pre-requisites to death.

The author of the "No Place to Call Home" blog (um, check it out, cause this chick's got brains and balls AND beauty) has challenged me through one of her posts to publish some "before I die"/bucket list items. I think you learn a lot about someone from their bucket lists.

1. Open up a cafe/restaurant
2. Sell a painting.
3. Write a book.
4. Learn fluent Arabic
5. Visit Ireland
7. Receive a peace prize
8. Get a fullbright scholarship
9. Have a house with a grey couch
10. Live in Philadelphia
11. Have an art exhibition
12. Write an article for a prominent newspaper
13. Have my own Christmas tree.
14. Roast my own coffee beans.
15. Go to jail
16. Memorize a book of the Bible.
17. Learn to play piano.

Mhm yep that about sums it up. These things take a long time, I better not die soon... sheesh...

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The will of God part II

So about two years ago I wrote a note about the will of God and today I'm going back and reiterating what I said because apparently I forgot what I wrote about. I have been stressed and semi-depressed about the state of my professional life lately and, frankly, with good reason.

I just took a job at a bank as a banker. Kind of like a teller but a bit more involved than that. Nothing wrong with that, but it's not in the area of my studies- Int'l Studies. The thing is I have been looking and applying for jobs since December and finding nothing in the area of my major. I've looked at such programs as the Peace Corps but have not felt peace about doing something as crazy as that with no skills. After I get some experience- than definitely probably. So in my search for a job that would give me more skills I have come to the question- What DO I want to do with my life? And it's been rough facing that question. I'm 23, heck if I know. I love the world and culture and the Middle East and Justice but other than that I really don't know what I want to end up doing. Doesn't mean I shouldn't be doing anything and while I am working at the bank strengthening my savings, I'll keep applying for other jobs or programs and be proactive about seeking professional international experience. I'm waiting to hear back from a program now- if my references would be so kind as to send in the forms. :)

I am re-reminded of the first two commandments in the Bible- to love God and love others, and the fact that all the law, including the implied laws to be wise in our use of time and to use our gifts and to not be slackers, hangs on these two laws.
These two commands (which really, are one- if we love God we will, naturally, love others...) are not an excuse to slack off and not be proactive about being agents of change in the world through our careers and professions. But they are a call to remember what matters in the end of life, and that we are able to live fully and to our purpose regardless of where we are in our career trajectory.

God is never far from each of us, and we are always, whether we are 4 or 94, in kindergarten or the president of the United States, a banker or a Nobel Peace Prize winner, called to love Him wholly and fully. And people- we are always surrounded by people, and we are always faced with the chance to love them or ignore them.

I believe our earthly achievements don't matter to God. It is the heart in which we do them. If we are in love with God and others and from there display great works of leadership and accomplishment, we will have succeeded, the same as if we, in love with God and others, live with the poor in the slums or work as a banker for the rest of our lives, touching those with whom we come in contact. And honestly, loving people is sometimes harder than landing a great job. Even in this economy.

So. Definitely use your gifts to the fullest throughout your life and strive for successful degrees and positions, but remember that true success is measured in love relationships which are possible at any stage in life and career.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Human Rights laws vs Education

I'm looking up graduate programs in human rights. Finding some good programs... Harvard has a human rights focused law program, ASU has a social justice and human rights masters program. Good options. These would focus more on advocacy- how to change laws in order to protect people's rights. It makes sense. I just wonder about the effectiveness of a changed laws when you're facing a culture that has decades of tradition that goes against a human right (ie. child brides). You can make laws and try to enforce them but I've been thinking about the usefulness of community outreach and education as a form of human rights activism that may be more effective than changing laws.
It's the difference between telling people "You can't do this. Do it, and these are the legal consequences: jail time, fines...." And "You shouldn't do this because when you do this is what happens to your community and this is how you keep yourself and your family from prospering."
When goodness comes from an understanding of the communal harm of your specific actions, I believe it is so much more wide-spread and effective in the long run than good actions coming from a fear of the legal consequences. That said, maybe laws often lead to the understanding and educating of perpetrators. Maybe they go hand in hand. Slavery in the US- the acceptance of slavery and the racism have lasted long after the introduction of the abolition laws that ended slavery. But we needed the laws, for sure. But there needed to be a community movement, a personal change to actually bring about freedom for the black population. It was in the US culture and the population needed to only a new law, but to be re-educated.

Ah. I guess I'm just becoming such a believer in education. Maybe that's why I'm considering this teaching position in Brazil. And why I applied for Teach for America. There's something about freeing the mind through education that helps people dream and be able to tap into a creativity of thinking that moves them to fight for their own rights and pursue a better life. Maybe then what I mean by community development/education being more effective than changing laws is that maybe through educating those being oppressed, they will be moved to change the laws themselves. Instead of us moving to change the laws FOR them.

I guess I'm trying to find a way to improve the lives of my fellow human beings while respecting their dignity and the sovereignty of their countries. Shunning the "white savior" message that is reflected with so much of the well-intentioned aid work that comes from the west while still offering to share what I have been so graciously blessed with. To share the knowledge in my mind (creative,right thinking about self worth, inherent rights, better business practices, better farming practices, health... whatever) and the hope in my heart (courage through Jesus) to help them help themselves. And at the same time being so honest about how I AM BLESSED when I "help" them. We only help others because it is good for our souls- we understand that we have the element of community and common humanity in our beings that bids us to reach out and when we do, it gives us life.

I guess I understand when it is governments that are oppressing people, then laws need to change. But so often the oppression that is going on is cultural, and I just keep going back to the need for the empowerment of the oppressed and the education of those who oppress. With the issue of child brides that would mean educating the girls on how they can resist marriage and how they can be wise about keeping safe from rape, and educating the men about the harm of marrying children and the awesome potential for community growth and his own prosperity when a woman is educated.
Empowerment is equipping people to help themselves. And education is the best form of empowerment.
Dear Portugal,
I miss you terribly.
Posted by Picasa