Freedom. From the Tunisian revolution to the more Egyptian upheaval, quests for freedom have been erupting all over the world. More recently, there have been strong revolutionary actions in Bahrain and Libya. No longer able to tolerate oppression, citizens of these countries want the independence they feel is rightfully theirs.
My own native country of Jamaica gained independence from England on August 6, 1962. Here in the United States, every year on July 4, fireworks, barbeques and parades nation wide also celebrate emancipation from England. Freedom is the underlying driver behind many of our ambitions and goals: to be established, self-reliant individuals. Nobody wants to be that guy living in his mother’s basement or the girl who had to marry a man for his money. That’s not the ideal after attending as prestigious an institution as Georgetown.
This fear of stagnancy continues even now. When I began my college career, I had to adjust to a lot more than the climate. I felt that it was expected of me to at least explore every opportunity that was offered to me, including internships, study abroad programs, scholarships and Alternative Spring Break opportunities, as most of them were unique to this campus and would prove to be very beneficial for my future. My résumé was inadequate. It was time to be the best I could be for each of my four years at this university. The metaphorical meter stick naturally rose higher every year.
I have noticed, however, that there has been a blockade of sorts that has brought a screeching halt to some of my and my fellow students’ goals: the struggling economy. The current economic state has created a reality that is somewhat of a deviation from the ingrained doctrine of independence.
For a more specific example, my roommate’s plans to live in D.C. and establish herself after graduation were foiled: Her parents can no longer bare the brunt of Sallie Mae. But neither can she. In order to help her parents in managing her financial responsibilities, she has been forced to pack up come May 23rd, move back to California and return to her parents’ house. She has now begun a feverish search for employment that will allow her to maintain her independence while paying bills. These jobs can be difficult to find for a recent graduate. Needless to say, she is quickly becoming frustrated.
Unfortunately, this case is not unique. Has the poor economy forced us to compromise our ambitions? Or, at the very least, delay them?
To take a broader, more global perspective, In January 2010, French President Nicolas Sarkozy polled the people of Martinique — a French territory in the eastern Caribbean — to determine whether or not Martiniquais desired to be more autonomous from the French State. The results clearly showed that, for economic reasons, the people of Martinique were not ready to take that next step toward becoming more independent.
More autonomy would mean a substantial decrease in the financial aid the country receives, which, as a small island, Martinique and its people do not feel ready to forfeit. They don’t feel that they can afford to aspire to be independent as many of their neighbors are. As we live in a society so firmly tied to the idea of independent states, the idea of being tied down is hard to understand. But, in the current global financial crisis, it may be more desirable to some.
I think there should be a compromise between freedom and financial security. Our financial struggles need more recognition. In a perfect world, there would be more opportunities that recognized some of the recent hardships; we wouldn’t have to abandon our long time dreams because of overwhelming financial obligations. In a perfect world, there is a way to intern in the place you’ve always dreamed of without risking your credit score. I wish I lived in that world.
Nneka Jackson is a junior in the College. She can be reached at [email protected] Contrary to Popular Belief appears every other Tuesday.
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