Friday, 13 January 2012

Focusing Attention (or how on Earth am I supposed to choose between all the good causes that I could work towards?)

It is a distinct possibility that I am the most indecisive person on Earth when it comes to choosing a vocation. Possibly my biggest anxiety over choosing a career is that I’ll pick wrong and focus my energies into areas that I was not so keen to be in as others.

Despite a recent certainty that I would apply to become a paramedic, I am realising, having watched a bunch of Ted Talks over the last couple of days, that paramedicine is probably not the career for me. Granted it has all the aspects of helping people, being hands on, useful for volunteering abroad etc. that I am looking for in a career, however I can’t really say that it is the area I would like to be involved in. The whole purpose of my life, as far as I can see, is to serve others. There are so many issues that concern me greatly such as people-trafficking, particularly for sex slavery, education and inequality, discrimination, especially on the basis of gender and sexuality; healthcare and poverty and well pretty much anything that needs addressing. My ability to help, I feel, would be best focused in addressing healthcare and poverty, and those are the areas I particularly would like to work in.

Healthcare and poverty issues go hand in hand through out the world, even in developed nations such as the USA. It is such a truly global issue, the neglect or mishandling of which has such enormous ramifications for work forces, family life, education (young children being out of school to care for sick parents being just one aspect of that) and more, all of which can be viewed as social issues, vital to the quality of life of citizens and the economic development of a country.

Now, contrary to how this post started, I am not writing about my own career angst, but rather am attempting to comment on the larger issue that many people face throughout life. That of having multiple passions. I’ll admit to being a bit of a bleeding heart sometimes, but I am practical if nothing else. I realise that I cannot, as much as I might like, do everything. No one can sadly. But no matter what a person ends up doing with their life, there are always opportunities to be involved in and support the other causes that deeply important to oneself. Being the guilt-ridden liberal that I am, having watched all of the talks I have recently that cover so many topics, I look at my life and wonder what I could get rid of, or reduce, to allow me to support those making great changes in the world. I won’t use the word sacrifice, because there’s very little that I could get rid of (bar the essentials) that would actually constitute a real sacrifice for me.

In the UK, if a person owns and uses a television, they have to pay a licence fee.* Which sounds ridiculous, and I’ve often thought it strange to have to have a licence for something that isn’t a weapon or in some way dangerous (if we side step the issue of TV and sedentary lifestyles). But the licence fee pays for the BBC, which is a brilliant source of news, educational programmes as well as some for pure entertainment. I do have a television, though it is not used. Everything I could want to know or view is available online sooner or later so I’m not too fussed. Which is why, although I was planning to get a TV licence so I could be more like a ‘real’ person, I have decided to continue to not use the TV and instead put that money towards a good cause.

The point I’m trying to make is not that I’m an amazing person, because I am far from that, it’s just that there are small, easy non-sacrifices to be found in many areas of our lives. And if you have a cause that you’re passionate about, something that makes a tiny difference in your life, can easily be done to make a humongous difference in the lives of those who need it more. And just to complete the circle here, I won’t feel guilty about working in one area where people need help, because I won’t be neglecting the others. There will always be some small thing I can change to help people who need it more than I do.

*I used to find it really annoying when I was younger that Americans don’t have to pay a TV Licence, then someone pointed out their healthcare system to me and I realised we have it sweeeeet over here. Ner ner.

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