Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Purpose and Consequence

This morning I'm listening to the Bob & Sheri show (www.bobandsheri.com) per routine. I never thought I'd be into a morning radio show enought to listen every day but it's witty, engaging, and plenty snarky to match my a.m. mood. Anyway, the topic for the day is Your. Purpose. There's the volunteer firefighter. The middle school art teacher. The Army officer. The Dad who is scapegoated by his kids. The woman who must learn to care for herself. That one smacked of therapy-talk. Don't get me wrong, I love me some therapy, and have been in far too much of it to ever judge. But I don't like the therapy-lingo coming out of non-therapists' mouths. I also don't like gum.

But.What.Is.My.Purpose. I don't know, and I'm okay with that. If you know, good for you. I hope you also know that you are lucky. I think for most of us, it changes with the phases of our lives. At any moment, we are probably fulfilling the grand purpose for our 80+ years in incremental ways. I hope that when my pulse falls that the amalgamation of my efforts will at least have a neutral impact.

So far, my purpose has involved writing, tree-hugging, listening, observing. A theme has been wanting to use writing to make realities clear to those who may not be experiencing those realities. I linked biology and journalism because I think science needs to be made more accessible to non-scientists.

But something I've been struggling with is how to express both my own experience in the Peace Corps (I served in Benin for 2.5 years), and the reality of how people must live in developing nations. At least, the reality that my limited understanding and privileged position could grasp. I do not want to contribute to the many stereotypes about Africa. When we dismiss an entire continent as Disease/War, we are guilty of a certain kind of bigotry. Ask yourself this: what role do we as Americans play in the problems of other nations? After my experience it became very clear to me that our hedonistic lifestyle is responsible for the poverty of much of the rest of the world. I'm sorry if that upsets you, makes you feel judged, or infringes on your belief that God gave America the thumbs up to be an asshat to the rest of the world. Reality is a mean, ugly warthog. What are we going to do about it? How do I express some of these realities without giving in to platitudes and stereotypes?

What is your purpose?
PS: Dr. Free-Ride talks about the implications of good-intentions here.


Amanda said...

I am sure that Booker is delighted to have Beyonce in his title.

Angela said...

Thanks for the blog mention, we think it's a pretty awesome show as well!

Email me at angela@bobandsheri.com--I'd love to send you a thank you gift!