The life of a college student is a busy one. Whether its finals period, as it is now, or not, it seems there’s always work to be done. As if that weren’t enough, there’s friends and clubs and other extracurricular activities because, c’mon, we need a social life.
But the life of a college student is also a blessed one, even for the poorest student who is struggling just to get by. How often we forget that.
Last night, I watched a documentary, Living On One Dollar a Day, produced by a group of recent college grads who spent the summer in a rural village in Guatemala, living on just a dollar a day. I’m not here to evaluate it for its accuracy or inaccuracy in portraying the problem of poverty – I know too little, regrettably, to even begin to do that. I’m here to reflect on a comment a friend made at the screening.
I asked him how he was doing, how finals were going, etc., and he responded with something to the extent of, “I haven’t done enough work to justify being here.”
I was struck by the sadness and the irony of that statement, one that I am often guilty of making myself. Yes, we have a responsibility as students to use this opportunity we have to be at college to learn and do our work and etc. But what about our responsibility as human beings on this planet? As global citizens?
How is it that learning about the plight of others gets relegated to our ‘spare’ time or ‘free’ time, which is largely non-existent? How have we grown so complacent? So self-centered (though we’d never name it as such)?
There are really two things I’m thinking about here. The first relates to what I described above. Let us not get caught up in our own little world and forget about our responsibility to others. I have not tried, by any means, to make a comprehensive argument here, and yes, you could very well say that watching a documentary isn’t really going to change anything and it shouldn’t be ranked under “responsibility to others.” But I hope you get the spirit of what I’m saying. Where you invest your time reveals your concerns, and there, you invest your life. Choose wisely.
The second thing is this: If you’re gonna do something, do it and don’t look back. I’m not trying to point fingers, because I’m guilty of this myself. So often, I hear people talk about an event or activity they decided to attend and how much they enjoyed it, but then turn around and say, “But I didn’t get any work done…” Well, duh. You chose to do something else than work, and that’s okay. You can’t have everything. We make choices, and they have consequences – I’m not talking about bad consequences; just simple cause-effect.
If you’re gonna do something, do it wholeheartedly. Stop looking back. It steals from the joy you could be experiencing. It tarnishes an experience that did nothing but enrich your life.
There is more to life than work. There is joy to be found, and hope to be given.