Georgetown breeds political minds — at least its reputation says it does.
It makes sense that an institution in the heart of the nation’s capital infuses politics, pragmatism, steadfastness and determination into the campus environment. Haven’t you had that awkward moment when your friend visits and gawks at the kids in suits walking around? Or when freshmen talk more about internships than the thrill of being without parents?
Georgetown students perfectly embody a missed step. We avoid the college process of contemplating our lives, instead jumping right into them. Typically, before man does anything, he must contemplate his action. Now that we “mupload” or tweet our every contemplation, there is significantly less weight to our actions. Thinking and doing has fragmented into small, fleeting instances that live as long as they’re on the news feed (so, about three hours, max). This simultaneous process of thought and action is being repeated on a macro scale in our lives.
What begins, then, to carry significance is the proof of what you have done: the resume that lists all the hospitals you built in Haiti while learning Latin and training for a triathlon. Coupled, of course, with the Facebook profile of all the friends you made and clubs where you danced. In reality, we’re 20-something students who ought to pause and consider what our purpose is. Isn’t that what college is about?
We’re all guilty of being middle-aged teenagers. We’re freshmen hopscotching campus clubs, sophomores declaring our majors, juniors tediously interning or seniors floating among consulting happy hours. When and how does that mysterious moment of attaining your purpose appear?
It seems to me that the issue stems from the end of high school. After the sweat and tears of the college application process, we perhaps realize that the job application process will be just as tough — if not tougher. The struggle to find purpose lasts a lifetime, but the struggle to sustain a lifetime requires money. While college used to be a time to ponder Descartes on dusty couches, it’s now a time to prepare for a career.
Asking questions about our places in life has been diluted by an overarching fear. If students pigeonhole their predetermined interests, they minimize prudence. Many would rather haul to graduation with political economy and Spanish double majors to get to Wall Street. From there, they would choose to carry 18-hour days for two years, make loads of money and then, maybe, if they don’t make partner at some firm, start living life normally. Heck, maybe they will even have fun once in a while.
I don’t mean to discount the ability of Georgetown students to enjoy themselves. Department of Public Safety officers are, in fact, quite busy every weekend. But that’s not what’s at question. A computer can use Microsoft Word and Google Books for 12 hours on weekdays while also playing the Ke$ha Pandora station on weekends until 3 a.m.
What a computer cannot do is wonder.
On a bathroom stall wall in Walsh, there’s a stanza from a poem that gets updated every year. Last year it was Yeats. This year, it’s T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” “Time for you/and time for me,/And time yet for a hundred indecisions,/And for a hundred visions and revisions,/Before the taking of a toast and tea.”
What gives our situation hope is that we are just at the place to start. Cultivating the self, the basis of this university, should be an idea that most Georgetown students take to heart. But few actually can live with this mantra given the reality of today’s financially, socially and politically competitive world.
The balance between pragmatism and passion is one of Georgetown’s most admirable values. We should actually try to embrace it.
Masha Goncharova is a sophomore in the School of Foreign Service. She is a Hoya Staff Writer.