Hello friends. By now you’ve undoubtedly stocked up on toilet paper and soup and are awaiting the conclusion (hopefully) of this Coronavirus outbreak.
While you’re waiting, I wanted to give you something to think about…
Should you follow your passion in life? A very good friend recently shared a TED talk video with me. I already viewed this video a couple of years back. I am not a fan of it. Right from the go, the speaker presents a false pretense that society already pressures people to follow their passions, and that this is very bad and counterproductive. This entire pretense is faulty for a few reasons.
To begin with, the assertion that society already pressures people to follow their passions is completely untrue. Especially over the last two decades, people are being pressured to follow corporate passions (or goals). As a former educator, I can testify that I was initially happy with the ‘STEM’ push presented by administrators and education officials in the USA. I soon learned the bitter truth about it. The STEM (science, tech, engineering, math) push was touted as the ultimate way to fill jobs, apparently millions of jobs, in these areas that go unfilled year after year. This was how it was sold, and like many other things the US Government / Corporate America sold us, was a complete and utter lie.
When I enrolled for my bachelor’s degree in 2007, I chose physics for my major and astronomy for my minor. Astronomy was the thing I was most passionate about. I grew up looking through my father’s old Sears refracting telescope at the rings of Saturn, the Moon and even a few stars. Later on, while working in Burbank, CA at Warner Music, I cashed in my vacation pay and bought a small telescope (Meade ETX 125), that I used while camping / traveling outside of Los Angeles. I loved looking at the stars and galaxies and nebulae, and I wanted to learn more about them all by doing genuine astronomical research.
While studying for my bachelor’s degree, I met a friend who was graduating the year before I did, majoring in philosophy. He liked the discipline yet was very afraid about his future. He knew that there were almost no jobs in philosophy, especially as he did not wish to teach or become a professor. How then was he able to follow his passion? I lost contact with him after he graduated and so unfortunately do not know what befell him, but I hope he found his way.
After I graduated, I found out the ugly truth. There were NO JOBS AVAILABLE IN ASTRONOMY. Even places like the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) and NASA would tell me “Sorry, we had our funding cut and there are no positions available… probably won’t have any for a long time… why don’t you try so-and-so?”. Problem is, when I tried ‘so-and-so’, they told me the same thing.
Over the last ten years I have been searching for stable work in astronomy and found NONE. What I have found is pages and pages of jobs for the military industrial complex. Raytheon, Lockheed Martin (same group that wasted 3 trillion of your tax money on a useless ‘joint strike fighter’), Northrop Grumman… so many jobs working on radar systems and missiles! Support your nation’s military! Learn how to kill the maximum amount of people in the shortest amount of time! Real, actual scientific research has been completely underfunded or eliminated (witness budget cuts to health and disease research that made this Coronavirus mess even worse). STEM fields are pushed because they function as suppliers for American corporate agenda which includes the military industrial complex. There is a near zero percent unemployment rate for an astronomy / physics degree–since these companies love to grab young graduates and put them to work on military projects.
As you can see from the chart (and the link at the end), the USA spends a vast amount of money on war (this has only increased now, with the next budget approved by Trump totaling 718 billion).
I hate to say it, but I took a job with a defense contractor in 2014. These are the companies that are eating up the majority of that money, pocketing it as profit. The job paid my bills, not much more, and was a generally horrible job with terrible people (let us just say there was a lot of people on edge and a lot of screaming and yelling, not by me) and no job satisfaction at all. All I ever accomplished was to put more money in the company owner’s pockets. When I left that job, I was sad. Yet I thank goodness I am not still working there. I hated that job and I hated doing it every day. It gave me no pleasure or no mental stimulation or anything positive you could say about doing a job that you love. Years later, I am working on my advanced degree and still holding out hope for some kind of work in astronomy, somewhere. I can tell you from experience, working at a job you are not passionate about will not only make you hate your daily routine, it will kill you slowly from within… it can make you regret your choices and hate your life.
The Needs of the Few
So, in our new modern and free market society, we see now that corporations control the game. I’ve seen so many degree programs at colleges cancelled because they do not ‘meet the current needs of today’s college graduates’, which is really code for: Does not meet the needs of today’s Corporate CEOs.
What corporate CEOs and billionaires want the most is for you to not follow your passions. Instead, follow theirs. Don’t choose a major that you actually care about! Choose a major that will bring corporations the most profit! Or, just work in an Amazon warehouse or at Walmart making a non-living wage and killing yourself with zero rest and benefits, having to sleep in your car! This is what passes for wisdom in American society today, and it is championed by the people on TV and those making the rules. They will be most happy dictating to you what courses you must take in college so that you can then (after racking up enormous college debt that you’ll be paying back for years) go to work for a low wage, supplying them with cheap labor for the rest of their lives.
I realize this blog may sound a little too “conspiratorial”. I assure you; I am not a conspiracy theorist or such… I do not believe we never landed on the Moon, that aliens control our government, or that some shadowy secret organization is controlling all society. What I believe is there are a few extremely wealthy individuals, today’s billionaires, who control not only the media but sadly the Government (through special interests / legalized bribery) and who are changing the narrative so everything suits their interests… and theirs alone. I have seen this happening over the last 20 years, and it is getting worse.
Here’s my prescription. While this whole Coronavirus lockdown / social distancing thing is in effect, take some time to reflect. Reflect on what you’re passionate about. Reflect on what you would like for your career and the way you live your life. Determine what course you want the rest of your life to take. Do not let some corporation or the “free market” determine what path you take in life. Peace and best of luck to you as you walk your path.