Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Better Lives

I came home and was just browsing online while munching on dinner. Watched a few video reporting on New York Times online on child labor issue in Africa and the crisis of environmental pollution along the Yellow River in China, then checked C's website and learned some latest updates on her yak enterprise ... Then came a mixture of feelings ... There are so many problems - major problems - in this world. While there are so many people who endeavor to work towards solving these issues and bettering people's lives, I wonder if there are ever enough people or resources or talents and wisdom to end such suffering of all, once and forever ...

And it brought me to think about what I can do besides sitting in my comfy (though cold) little apartment in Cambridge. What have I done today to better people's lives? I guess I helped a bunch of distressed students who were worried about their mid-term papers, or at least I helped increase their knowledge or clarify their muddled thoughts on the notion of "clashes of civilization." But really, other than that, what else have I done today?

I guess I could sit here and tell myself that I'm still young, still in the season of my life where I'm simply building myself and equipping myself for something greater to come - something hopefully that will SERIOUSLY better people's lives. On the other hand, sometimes I'm just deeply afraid that I may be wrong after all ... Perhaps all I'm doing here is pursuing after my own interests, own gain, own comfort in life. Sooner or later age or financial concern or the need for status or recognition or even just a simple graduation paper would weigh so much down on my shoulders that I'd forget about people and issues and problems outside my immediate surrounding, this tiny tiny little bubble that I live in.

On the other hand - this should NOT be a small little bubble right? This is Harvard, one of the hubs of the greatest educational experiences and intellectual expertise of humankind Supposedly from here the best and the brightest goes out to courageously solve the problems of the world and make serious changes that impact people's standards of living and happiness in the most positive way. Supposedly the difference starts here, right here, with our minds and hearts and courage and visions and perspectives sharpened, challenged, cultivated so that the most neediest issues may be addressed most immediately or the gravest problems of earth may begin to see the light of hope.

However, at the end of the day, is that what's happening here? Beyond grades and good papers and satisfactory teaching and student consultation, are we here striving for that development of mind, thoughts, souls and hearts?

I hope I am making a difference, as tiny as it may be. I hope that somehow through whatever that I said to my students or whatever actions, attitudes, or perspectives that I carried out in front of my students, I would not only serve them, increase their knowledge, but truly better the lives of those who would one day leave this campus and go out to move and shake the society positively.

Yet somehow I wonder if the difference that I'm making is simply too tiny or insignificant when facing the enormity of issues that need to be solved and justice that needs to be extended. I wish I could spend all my consultation time with students talking about their dreams, hopes, and ambitions for the future rather than merely talking about the civil examination system back in Tang dynasty or the issues of tea trade during the Qianlong reign in Qing. There's nothing wrong with the latter and that's exactly what I'm hired to do. But is that what I enjoy doing the most or where I may make the most amount of impact?

Questions that I don't have the answers for today. But I do hope that I do continue to challenge myself each day with one simple question - have I made a difference today? Or have I helped better someone's life, make someone laugh, solve someone's problem or de-stress a person's mind?

And then I may go to bed in the evening and say, now you have a reason to wake up again and continue on with the same mission.

And with hope.

梅ちゃん at 10:47:00 AM



at 11/24/06, 12:19 PM Blogger kevin vanessa said...

Dear Ma-Yi,
The difference we make in this world needs to come from Him. At the end of the day, He will ask us that question: "Have you make a difference for me?" I sure hope all of our answers will be "YES". We are not making the difference for this world but for Him in this world........

K & V


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