Sometimes You Wanna Go (where you have no name)

Bleep, bleep, bleep. It’s just before 5 and I’m supposed to get up and read the Word. But it’s cold and dark, and I don’t want to. Must get dressed, must leave, no time for stuff, but apparently, time to curl my eyelashes that will fall down by the end of the day anyway.

8 AM. Stumbling around in a large room, trying to find my seat. I am now a number. Writing my name on my Principles of Microeconomics Final. Making small talk with the girl next to me. “Good luck” she says. Apparently I had grown deaf, so I asked her to repeat herself like twice. What else would a stranger say before a test?

1-2. Epically failing my golf lesson. Instructor pulling out all the stops, my body unwilling to hit a small white ball squarely. He even scooped up sand and put it behind the ball, telling me to try and hit the sand in the air. You know it’s bad when they get creative.

Around 3. Mad at the world. Bitter about circumstances. Deliberating about the future. Wanting to eat away my troubles. Considering the benefits of booze. Wishing to run off to the forest and leave it all behind, self-surviving in a modest and wholesome way. Routine, modern life, boredom, ingratitude slowly killing me.

3- studying, avoiding studying, eating away some troubles. Reminding myself of the good things that are going, like my study group planned for tomorrow (lately that has been the closest I’ve had to a social life). Why should God give me stuff if I don’t even appreciate what I have, pursuing Him wholeheartedly?

Present- blogging. Need to communicate with God. Need to lay it all down. But I am afraid. I am afraid that God doesn’t want me, that I don’t belong to Him anymore, that I can’t belong to Him. Feeling trapped by circumstances. Wall between me and God. Must climb. But it’s hard. Will I fall? “Stop climbing! You’ll never get there!” They tell me. Why do I need to listen to them? My palms are sweating, but I can feel the freedom and love and peace already. It’ll be worth it.

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Why We Should Be Careful How We Help Others

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Poverty is all around us, even if we chose to ignore it. When you’re sitting in your warm car, it’s much easier to ignore the panhandlers by the intersections and continue your conversation than it is to acknowledge the human suffering going on. Poverty takes many forms and doesn’t restrict itself within borders, but forgive me for limiting the discussion, because for right now, I am going to talk about Africa.

What does a white person know about Africa, you ask? Not much- it’s not like I have ever even been there. But I have read Dambisha Moyo’s (she is an African) book Dead Aid, a treatise against “governmental” aid for African countries, which is what this discussion will be based off.

The fact that I have been mentioning Africa might have just caused a little pang of pity to vibrate on your heartstrings. That is why so much money and so many supplies have been sent there over the years. And, apparently, to little avail. Despite all this assistance from our rich governments to African ones, per capita income overall has decreased (Moyo 5). The money that is sent there, with its objectives that white people cooly dictate, is used for unintended purposes- about 85% worth (Moyo 39). And that’s not all. I wish that were all.

Sending foreign made supplies can be detrimental to the African economy because local producers will lose customers. Which means… People somewhere are losing jobs (Moyo 44). Clearly, something is wrong with that picture.

And here’s something ironic. The US government subsidizes farms, which costs money. While at the same time, we pay for aid. Sure, politicians have their reasons for it, but no one who knows about economics (I can attest to this too even as a first year economics major) will argue that more trade could really help Africa, and American consumers too (Moyo 114-115).

The flood of aid affects the value of currency, which can drive up the prices of African exports, making it hard to compete with lower world prices (Moyo 62). And this aid is not really free money. Interest must be paid, causing lots of debt. That’s something that we can understand here in the States. This debt had to be restructured (Moyo 18-19). Clearly that wasn’t a fantastic solution. Besides these concerns, there are so many others economic problems with aid that I can’t even begin to summarize without basically going over the whole book. Simplistically put, aid is starving Africa, and if you don’t believe me, read the book yourself and some intelligent counter-arguments as well, if you like.

Obviously, I’m a little uncomfortable with all of this as a Christian. As much as I would like capitalism to benefit everyone, I know that it doesn’t. Self-reliance is a nice idea, but it doesn’t always put food on the tables of well-intentioned people. The only thing is, it’s put food on more tables than its counterpart, communism.

I still believe in helping out our fellow man, not leaving our brothers at the mercy of the markets. Which aren’t terribly merciful. I still believe in missionaries, in people who help out kids who don’t have a voice and who didn’t have a chance. But I don’t think it’s a good idea to stifle the local economies of the countries we seek to help in the process. Is there a way to help out without doing more harm than good? I think so. We can spread the Word, empower, assist, and do all that in a way that respects the integrity of foreign peoples. Treating them like children isn’t going to cut it. I think there is a solution, we all just need to put our heads together. I hope to be part of that solution as soon as possible.

One way to help Africa, and probably many other regions, is through trade. But we don’t have free trade. Should we? If we did, African producers would be better off. But that begs the question- what about the American jobs that would be lost? This is a good question. I think anyone who’s been to Detroit lately will agree that Americans need jobs. But so do other people around the world.

It’s not an easy solution to an easy problem. It seems like no matter how you manipulate the situation, someone gets screwed. Why does it have to be that way? I would imagine that there’s enough money to floating around to feed everyone in the world and then some.

I’m not saying that we need equality. That is impractical and impossible, among other things. Sorry communists. But what if everyone in the world had a job and food to eat and hope for the future? What if everyone was aware of Christianity, even if they don’t believe?

Works Cited

Moyo, Dambisha. Dead Aid. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2009. Print

Photo credit: andykristian.com

A Blue Christmas

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I am beginning to understand why the approach of the holidays (Christmas, in my book, because it least it has the word Christ in it) often makes people depressed. I remember being a kid, and loving Christmas, for materialistic reasons, mostly, but being excited about it just the same. Was I going to get the newest gaming system thing, or, worst case scenario, just some new dolls? I wish I hadn’t been so greedy, but I miss those simpler sorts of dilemmas.

But this Christmas is not going to be so hot. With no friends, no extended family coming over, no material things to receive, and nothing that I even want that can be bought with money… what’s there to look forward to? No wonder suicide rates are so high this time of year, a lot of people have much less to look forward to than I do.

“It’s just another birthday (my birthday is a few days before Christmas), just another Christmas, just another New Year, which will be the same as last year or even worse, and at the end of it, I’ll be the same as the year before, or even worse. Where are the best years of my life?”

I can spend a lot of time thinking like this, thinking about how pathetic my life is and how I can’t wait to go to heaven and sing with the angels and my Christian friends who never liked me on earth. But then I remember… why am I wasting my time being sad and holding back tears? What does it matter if some parts of my life aren’t perfect? Who said that life was going to be easy and predictable and rosy all the time? Am I the first person who has experienced hurt? No. Will I be the last? No. Does anyone want to hear me complain, does anyone think my pain is justified, and does anyone really care? No.

I have everything that I need. And at least I can look forward to spending time with my immediate family, writing, perhaps some cookie baking and tree-decorating. What more can a person want out of life?

In economics, we learn about how self-interest makes the world go round. We learn how “smart for one, smart for all” puts food on the table. Yet I don’t want to live that way. I don’t want to always be thinking about how to improve my life and worrying about what people think of me. I want to do my job and keep my soul, living a life that responds to Christ’s great sacrifice. I’m so tired of being tired… it’s time to wake up and suck it up.

Photo: http://www.webmd.com

What Does the World Have in Store For Me?

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I suppose the basic answer to that question is nothing. However, I’m sure God has some things planned for me, and it’ll sure be interesting to find out just what those things are. Maybe not what I think.

I have mixed feelings about what my parents have always wanted for my life- to go to UCLA law school and be successful and classy from there. Pictured above is the beautiful smog-filled LA skyline from a congested freeway.

Currently, I am an economics major, and am about to declare an accounting minor (actually, of late I’ve been reconsidering it). The only thing is… I don’t know if I like accounting. It seems a little boring. At this point, economics seems a little more interesting to me, more fluid and relevant to the world around me. So I’m not sure exactly what I want to do. Sometimes I wish God would just whisper it in my ear. But this would be a little scary, and also, I wonder if I would listen to Him if He did tell me. Maybe He doesn’t care all that much as long as I give Him the glory in all things. But come on, it must matter a little? Surely he doesn’t want me to be an engineer, because I’m not good at math. I would imagine that He would want me to do something that suits me… but what does suit me? And don’t say being a writer, because I will always be a writer, and there are reasons that I don’t want to do that full time.

Well, on a slightly unrelated note, I just sent out an email to inquire about the position of staff writer on a university newsletter. We’ll see where all this takes me, and I suppose I must have faith that I’ll be taken to the right place. It’s time to get out of the driver’s seat.

 

Succeeding in Business, Staying Sane

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I suppose there is a reason that I never talk about work on this blog… besides my writing, which isn’t actually work. It is because now I don’t have a job, I am just a full-time student. A full time student majoring in economics who aspires to maybe become a lawyer someday. Oh, and pretty soon I’ll be declaring a minor in accounting, so I can become a CPA. Yeah, it’s a little complicated.

When I was accepted into college, I went in as an English major, but quickly changed to econ before classes even started. I did this mainly because I knew it would be easier to fulfill CPA requirements using this major. Surprisingly, economics has been alright so far. I can’t say it’s the most thrilling class I’ve ever taken, but my professor is good, the topic is interesting enough, and I don’t have urges to gouge my eyes out. So I am content.

My managerial accounting class, on the other hand, is a little different. I go to that in the afternoon, and I am always exhausted. I try to follow along, but I just kind of want to lie down and sleep. The professor seems like a nice guy (I even have my suspicions that he is a Christian), but he goes really fast and is hard to follow. I have stopped trying to copy down the words on the powerpoint because it seems hopeless. Yet, I’m not really sure what I should be taking notes on. Not to mention, half the time I don’t know exactly what he’s talking about. So I kind of rely on the book, which is sad. Why am I even in that class? I find myself wondering.

It brings up the important question: do I want to be an accountant? Just hearing about accounting sometimes makes me want to yawn. But maybe I could get into it, maybe I could be good at it. I can add and subtract and do percentages. I don’t want to give up prematurely. I don’t want to spend my whole life looking for something to do that I love and can get paid for. It’s like spending your whole life looking for your knight in shining armor, stressing about it, agonizing, when you had the opportunity to marry your best friend and make the most out of that. Work is work, I tell myself. Just find something to do, and make the most out of it. And I’ll always have writing, which is my one true love. But I can’t spend all my time writing, I’ll just come home to it at night, like it’s my husband (creepy?)

But of course, I still wonder. Was I meant to be a lawyer? An accountant? Is that what God wants from me? If you asked my parents, they would say with absolute certainty that I should be a lawyer. But I don’t know. I guess time will tell. Why worry about the future anyway?

College Corner

Yesterday I began my university career. I’d been looking forward to it for so long, and there it was! Sure, there’s always the anticlimax associated with something you waited a long time for, but I’m still hopeful for the future, and planning on being thankful for it all even when it gets crazy towards finals week. 

Armed with a backpack filled with anything I could ever possibly need for the day, I set off in the general direction of my class. Meanwhile, I’m trying to get my swag on, walking confidently, being sure to swing my arms and act like I don’t feel lost and nervous. I look at the map for guidance, trying to seem cool and methodical as I do it. I finally find my first class, economics, without having to ask anyone, which is good because I HATE asking for directions.

My first social interaction was not promising. As we flowed into the lecture hall as a crowd, I had to look for a seat. This was intimidating. Would it be too forward to sit next to someone? What about the people I walked past, would they see it as rejection? Would I seem antisocial or pretentious or something if I skipped seats? What would Jesus do? So I chose an end seat in one row. Which was not the best decision. And the girl next to that seat said someone was sitting there. Great. So I went to the next row and debated with myself whether I should try talking to my neighbor, but she didn’t seem like she wanted to talk to me. I vaguely wondered if I couldn’t go home and learn in a book just as well, if I was going to be lonely anyway. Then I tried to wrap my mind around the opportunity cost, a mystical, additional cost added to everyday things. As if taxes weren’t enough.

The worst part of the day was probably jogging to my managerial accounting class. I had to jog, okay, it was all the way across campus and I only had ten minutes to get there. There’s everyone else, strolling along or serenely coasting on their bike, and then there’s me, panting and sweating a little, clearly out of shape and out of vogue. I didn’t want to wear jogging clothes to school! You know, I don’t see why it can’t be socially acceptable to jog in street clothes for a practical reason. Why’s the man always bringing me down? 

The best part of the day was probably my playwriting class. It was very small and intimate, taught by a bubbly, quirky TA that reminded me of one of my high school theater teachers. 

Still, I’m pretty excited about college. I have a feeling it’s going to be the best two days of my week (I wish it was more!). Sure, I’m apprehensive and a little skeptical, but it’s something to apply myself to, and I’m sure it’ll give me a lot of writing material, if it doesn’t also diminish my faith in God. You know.