If you’ve read most of my posts on this site so far, you’ll probably notice that my focus has been more on the personal side of things and I’ve only briefly talked about social justice issues or my role in them. There is a reasonable explanation for this, and that comes as a question: Do I actually care about international development, social justice, and social change?
I’ve spent the greater part of the past 4 years of my life (my graduate degree and the last 2 years of my undergrad) getting involved and increasing my involvement with a non-profit organization (what can I say, I was a late bloomer), starting at the student chapter and slowly making my way up to national level work. What got me started on it? Simple, a couple of very amazing friends in my engineering classes invited me to take part in the local student chapter of the NGO. At first, it was addicting! All I wanted to do was learn more, and my curiosity became a great fuel for discussions as I was trying harder and harder to understand everything that was being thrown at my face and how little I truly knew about worldly matters. What made me stay though, ultimately, were the people that were also heavily involved. I have never met so many engaging, critically thinking, intelligent, and passionate people before. Basically, I wanted to be more like these people, because I genuinely wanted to be a better person and individual.
To clarify quickly, the work I have done has mostly been here in Canada, and not overseas. I’ve recognized from an early point in my involvement that my greatest impact would be here in my own community or country and not internationally. Because of this, I have always felt a sort of disconnect with the issues of poverty and social injustice abroad, but I know and acknowledge their existence. My friends have witnessed these injustices first hand and have retold those stories to me, yet I still feel disconnected to the entire thing.
As mentioned in previous posts, I’m graduating soon (seriously, I’m really excited, and will take every opportunity to tell people this because at one point I wasn’t sure if I’d be stuck for another 3 years trying to do this thing). Once again that question of what I am going to do afterwards comes up. And whenever this question is asked of me, I always ask myself, whether or not I give enough of a fuck to try and keep doing this social justice thing instead of engineering, and if so, am I doing it for the right reasons? Do I care enough about the issues at hand anymore like I used to? Or, fuck it, let’s be honest here, I want to work with these amazing people I’ve grown to love and care for dearly. And if I find myself in a situation where I do work in that environment, but my friends have chosen to leave, will I have the drive to stay put, or would I see myself leaving soon after?
So am I a bad person if I’ve figured out that I’ve been giving my time in this sector of work, not primarily for those that are suffering, but for the people who have chosen to work in this line of work themselves? Is investing in those around me, and caring about their work because it is important to them, a good enough reason for my involvement in the social justice community?
This time I don’t have an answer, and I don’t know if I’m going to like it when I actually figure it out.