There is one question that keeps coming up, and to be honest I still havn’t been able to produce an adequate response, to crystallize my motivations/intentions. That question is: Why am I volunteering?? Sure, its important work, extremely important. But if my intention is to help the students, is my going over to Kenya really what would help them most? This is especially legit considering the money that I’ve spent doing this.
You could then ask “What do you expect to get out of it?” To be honest, I’m not sure what to expect. I can take some guesses as to what I will be involved with, but those would truly be guesses and very general at that.
And then I recently (Heathrow) re-listened to a lecture given by UofT professor Jordan Peterson entitled The Necessity of Virtue and found that this passage resonated deeply:
“Follow your moral intuitions. Stop doing the things that make you feel weak. I’m not talking about following a moral code, all though that can be useful if you really don’t know what the hell your doing at all as it will at least get the ball rolling, a form of apprenticeship. Not doing the things that are obviously bad is a form of discipline.
Pay attention to what is meaningful, because you can see what that is. You may find that you’re terrified of it, because everyone has this secret wish. “I really love doing…” I don’t know what it is, because its different things for different people. But people are afraid to do it, to really do it, because as soon as you start doing the thing that you love you expose your nakedness by saying “this is what I’m really like.” Instead, you just shove that under the bed and do something that you don’t care about at all, because if people then judge you it doesn’t matter. The problem with that is that there is no life there, no force, no you, and without that the suffering will do you in and then you’ll become a bad person.
You have to see the things that you find meaningful and then you have to fight for it. You have to fight against yourself, you have to fight against other people, because what do they know about it, and to stand up for the thing that sustains you. That takes courage, and that also takes honesty.
Follow your moral intuitions, and be honest about it. What will happen is a star will appear and guide you, a star being whatever makes your life meaningful. Maybe you’ll take some tentative steps in that direction, and then you’ll go a little ways and realize no, that’s wrong. And then the thing that makes your life meaningful will appear over there and you’ll take a few steps in that direction. But as you walk and take some steps in that direction you change, and as you change you get wiser, and what happens is as you keep doing these things that make your life meaningful then you correct yourself over time.”
Thank you, Mr. Peterson.