Howard Thurman said: “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
I often feel, as a millennial in 2016, that I’m constantly inundated with news of tragedies and injustice. With the proliferation of social media and news outlets, social and political causes–both global and domestic–receive more visibility than ever before. As someone fortunate enough to receive an education from Boston University, I feel a responsibility and a desire to help ameliorate the horrors of the world. I could study medicine or devote myself to nonprofits, but, I don’t want to do those things. Instead, I’m pursuing my goals of working in the film industry. And while film has the potential to change a life or strike a chord in an entire society–I certainly believe this–I have no false pretenses about the nature of the work. After college, I will likely not be working on the next Schindler’s List or Citizen Cane. I will likely take a job wherever I can find one and spend long days working to help produce content that may or may not have any significance to anyone.
I used to feel unsure about telling people I was studying film. I consider myself an informed, socially conscious person, so how could I justify my decision to work in entertainment? I now realize why that question itself is misguided, and Mr. Thurman’s quote is highly pertinent. No one pursuing what they love will ever be doing the world a disservice. Thurman is right: the world needs people who have come alive. The ubiquity of technology, for all its merits, helps to create an omnipotent complacency that plagues the modern age. No one is accountable because everyone is accountable. And this will be the justification that comforts us all as we lunge into the era of climate change, assuming we don’t first enter a nuclear holocaust. Sound extreme? Maybe you haven’t asked what makes you come alive, or maybe you haven’t pursued it.