We all heard the inspirational message, “Follow your passion! Do what you love!” . The idea is that we should pursue our passions, talent and abilities to have a satisfying carrier and a happier life. Whether we are just starting out life or wanting to make a change for the better, we should listen to our hearts because it will take us to the ideal place in life. But, does it?
Recently, I’ve read an article, “The Great Shame of Our Profession”, written by Kevin Birmingham, an English professor. The article made my blood boil. He outlines the path people need to take who have a passion to become an English professor. They get a PhD in English, go to conferences, get published and win prestigious awards. We would think that they have found their passion and love, and, therefore, they are in life where they want to be. Actually, they are not. The article reveals that most of them are hired as adjunct professors, surviving on less than $10,000 per year and living on food stems in the United States. Scary, isn’t it!?
What went wrong with the ambitious English professors’ lives who pursued their passion and love? Capitalism. Yes, capitalism. It is not fashionable to criticize capitalism, but, unfortunately, we are living at a time where capitalism has produced catastrophic results. Globalization and free trades agreements have wiped out the middle class that has the power to ensure the economic health of any country. Once the middle class disappears, people make little money and, therefore, pay very little taxes. The less taxes they pay, the less money there is to keep the country out of dept. Many of the developed countries are now carrying a huge amount of dept. At the same time, businesses are still focusing on making record profits. Hence, both governments and businesses are trying to get away with paying as little as possible for even the most educated crowd.
What is the solution? Often times, we are told to follow the job market; a message, which stands in direct conflict with the idea of following our passion and love. The jobs seem to be in the computer related fields, sciences and business right now. So, the new message is that we should go where the money is.
Is this a real solution, though? Not really. Once too many people jump on the bandwagon to pursue these occupations, all they achieve is the cheapening of these jobs. For example, years ago, people were told to get into the IT field because there was a huge demand for IT workers. Many listened and became IT technicians. However, the incredible number of IT technicians that flood the market made sure that the companies had a lot to choose from. This means the IT market became competitive and the job started paying less and less. Eventually, the same will happen to computer programmers, scientists and business people. If we are all following where the money is, the money will basically disappear!
The bigger issue is that the more we are cheapening the available jobs, the less there is to choose from. There is little inspiration for any people to enter a profession that takes many years of studying and accumulating experience, if it pays as much as an unskilled work. This means that the job market is shrinking, not just in terms of the quantity of jobs, but the quality of jobs. There is a decreasing number of desirable occupations to choose from where people can make a decent living. Ironically, this includes university professors who exist to teach others to think, critique and be skillful.
To add to this problem, computer programmers are busy creating robots which are replacing workers. The increasing number of robots are decreasing the available variety of jobs. The foresters, assembly workers, truck drivers, just to name a few, are disappearing because of the heavy machinery, industrial robots and self-driving trucks that are overtaking their jobs. The variety disappears, leaving people with even less decent jobs to choose from.
In this environment, we can forget about following our passion and love! We can only follow our passion and love in our spare time. The rest of the time is spent on survival. We try to survive by maneuvering on the shrinking job market with a decreased number and types of jobs available. The world has no place for passion and love anymore. We are left with our animal instinct to do what is necessary to keep ourselves and our families alive. Basically, we kill within us what makes us human and lower ourselves to the animal kingdom of survival.
The question is: Is this how we want to live? Do we want to live in a world where we can no longer express our human passions, talents and abilities? Do we want to exist just to survive and die, with most us unable to unfold our true being in this world?
I think there is a lot to think about while we watch our fellow beings, the English professors, lining up to use up their food stamps in the United States.