The Origin of This Mission
Since being able to think and act autonomously, I have always had an urge of helping other people in me, or at least, asking myself, why am I preferring doing something else rather than helping people? Philosophers might answer because altruism is part of human nature, it is our intuition to help someone. But if you notice, many people might not have this intuition. For me it is down to Karma in Buddhism that I am able to obtain this urge at all time. Karma “sets up” my mindset and even the social background surrounding me, which fosters my altruism. Because of good karma, I am able to be here to contemplate on my own thoughts instead of being an illiterate, dull and self-interested individual. However, I do not blindly believe in Buddhism and Karma, it is rather the “inference to the best explanation” to the ultimate question I am asking “What is the truth of everything?”, which Karma, Buddhist ethics and epistemology has been an appropriate answer for now.
I wasn’t starting off as a nice individual and I certainly wouldn’t say “running through fields of wheat” is one of the nicest things I have ever done. I did much worse. I stole, I kicked people, I broke my brother’s fingers (retrospectively I knew I would break his fingers but it was too late to do something), I lied, I swore and all other things that was too horrible to say. My emotional state was too crowded, uncontrollable and it drove me fanatically on its rollercoaster with no end in site. Nonetheless I knew I needed to get out of this mindset and be like other people.
It is the Journey
I was introduced to Buddhism when I was 13. I started to question everything. This included: myself, my emotions, my studying, politics, my family, my country’s convention and tradition binding me, and the Buddhist values that I am valuing against; all were up for enquiry. And this journey to acquire knowledge continues still.
This journey has different stages but with the same mission – what should I do that I can learn the most, and live the worthiest life as a person. Prior to university, this mission urged me to choose PPE. It is this mission that urges me to look for challenges and innovation in coming to university before I would later enter the world of employment.
I care about my future since it is the manifestation of whether I am living a worthy life. Time does not stop and years pass by quickly. The people I look up to achieved alot while still at a young age and so make me conscious of time. That is why I thought I ought to make up my mind about my future, that is my career as soon as possible. I started off this career seeking journey even before stepping into Freshers’ Week. I signed up for events and talked to people in the jobs that I thought would make substantial impact to the community, and the jobs which are most challenging. I was lost in between my morality – those jobs will create the best social impact, and my happiness – I couldn’t hide my unhappiness in those careers. I was perplexed. Then very fortunately, I was introduced to “Effective Altruism”.
In its website, Effective Altruism features as its main question as “how can we use our resources to help others the most? Rather than just doing what feels right, we use evidence and careful analysis to find the very best causes to work on.” This movement assures me that my enthusiasm for all knowledge is not a sign of eternal unemployment but rather a normality in which my main duty at university is the accumulation of as many “transferable skills” – essential skills that will open as many doors as possible for my future. This movement gives me an anchor for my mentality. It provides me a realistic slice of life, forcing me to question the fancy perspective of the world that has embraced me throughout my journey of knowledge. I feel an urgency in this journey of knowledge, to implement these ideas in real life, by translating them into well-paid jobs and careers. Eventually, how can an idea help the world if it is not welcomed by the world?
So this part of my life is okay now, I am holding close to my mission.
Many people think that I have thought too much about the future and that it is harmful, since it will change without predetermination. I do not think so. I know my mission is one of the universal truth that is never wrong. And I am determined to pursue it. And I will endeavour to inspire others to join this journey with me.
By Giang Ah