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To put one brick upon another - shadows of echoes of memories of songs — LiveJournal
To put one brick upon another
It is useful to be reminded sometimes of the error of my largely unexamined assumption that everybody wishes to contribute something useful to society over and above their presence in it.

It is useful, because I believe (without being able to prove it) that people have some kind of inherent worth, not contingent on the scale of the contribution to society that we (using our own system of measurement) perceive them to be making, which I would struggle to describe or quantify but am wary of accidentally discounting; because I also believe that (by and large) people have to decide for themselves what motives or morals guide them; and because for me to make these unstated assumptions about other people comes perilously close to projecting my own value system on to them in a way that I would prefer not to do.

However, it is also disheartening, not because I want other people to believe or act differently, but because of the effect their stance has on my confidence in my own position. I feel that I could and should (and in some cases even do) contribute to society in excess of the gift of my existence, and yet I am often frustrated by how little I do contribute; so to see other people explicitly disavowing any interest in giving or doing any more, and being content and happy (which are two different things) in that position, makes me wonder if I am going about things the wrong way. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing to wonder; but it deflates, it undeniably deflates.

To every sentence accrues a thousand unstated assumptions.


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ewx From: ewx Date: December 13th, 2005 05:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm guessing here that someone has recently done you the tremendous favour of thusly reminding you?
j4 From: j4 Date: December 13th, 2005 05:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
I don't think the occurrence that triggered the thoughts adds any useful information to the thoughts themselves (which may not answer your question).
rysmiel From: rysmiel Date: December 13th, 2005 06:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
so to see other people explicitly disavowing any interest in giving or doing any more, and being content and happy (which are two different things) in that position, makes me wonder if I am going about things the wrong way.

It is possible, with some luck and some application, to discover places where one can give or do in places that seem clearly to be the optimal use for what talents and energies one has, and I can see how the combination of that and the sort of tactical application of self-knowledge such that it is clear where the line between doing X amount of stuff per month, recuperating appropriately, and being able to do said X amount of stuff, more or less, into the foreseeable future, is preferable to doing 3X amount of stuff per month in ways which burn one out at some level or other, such that the net amount of stuff one does is maximised [ a form of tactical thinkinng also subject to taking on ongoing commitments such that one is expected to and indeed intends to be around into the indefinite future ] can all come out looking like disavowing any interest in doing more; I don't believe it impossible for a person to be genuinely doing the best they can do with what they have, and to recognise that, and to be content with it, and in some ways I am comfortingly close to that myself. [ Need I specify that I am not taking what you say here as an accusation ? Probably not, but it would do less harm to say it superfluously than not say it and be misread. ]

That said, I have no argument with the world being full of selfish bastards with seriously damaged self/other identification memesets when it comes to whose benefit they work for. One of the ways in which I am not a nice person is the degree to which my emotional reaction to that attitude is to wish to render them down for bonemeal.

Basically, I think making what useful contributions to society I best can comes under the heading of "I do these things because I want to live in a world where people do these things" for me, internally. [ Which is a fairly large chunk of how I live my life. ]
jiggery_pokery From: jiggery_pokery Date: December 13th, 2005 06:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
On an extremely tangentially related point, the thing that has annoyed me most over the last couple of days is the following comment to this post of basic (US-focused) financial advice.

One of the dumbest things people do is borrow $40-50K to get a doctorate in Social Work with a salary of never higher than $30k.


I think there is some sense in letting the market dictate salary levels, not that it often works terribly well, but picking a low-paid career is not a dumb move if it's what you love.
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