I felt particularly moved this morning after reading Seth Godin’s Thanksgiving Day post. Here is what he said:
A great way to give thanks for the privileges we’ve got is to do important work.
Your job, your internet access, your education, your role in a civilized society… all of them are a platform, a chance to do art, a way for you to give back and to honor those that enabled you to get to this point.
For every person reading this there are a thousand people (literally a thousand) in underprivileged nations and situations that would love to have your slot. Don’t waste it.
This reminded me of a nowhere-near-as-eloquent post I penned a year ago titled The Human Impact of Your Work. In this post I lamented the fact that sometimes research or technical work can feel quite removed from directly addressing or improving the human condition, despite the fact that in an incremental sense an engineer, scientist, or programmer holds unique keys to deeply impact humanity. I concluded that post saying:
I am left hoping that all of us choose to spend our lives wisely on each other. That we will give our careers (and time and effort and energy and resources) to problems that matter and touch real lives, both in the near and long terms. This goes especially for those of us with technical and scientific backgrounds who possess the training and intellect to do something significant in this world.
Right now, as I sit in my office the day after Thanksgiving pushing forward on research, I find myself re-upping in my task to help keep people from dying in collapsing concrete buildings during earthquakes. No matter how cliche it sounds.
Whatever your version of that is, it’s important for you to figure it out.
Who are you counting on to do it if you don’t?