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9.28.2012

Who I Am, Why I'm Going

Hello world,

My name is John. I graduated from New York University this May with a BA in Political Science,  and have subsequently found myself cast out into the cold, hard, unrelenting milieu  of "the real world." Gone are the days of my former college lifestyle; characterized at the basest level by an asymmetrical relationship between a burgeoning social life and listless relationship with academia. Not to say that all I did in college was party, on the contrary I had a very fulfilling and educational college experience, yet most of this occurred outside the classroom. I was influenced primarily by my surroundings and the people I surrounded myself with. I was possessed by an innate hunger to go out and see the world for myself, and to the best of my ability capitalized on opportunities in this realm as they presented themselves.

I travelled, spending a year studying in London followed by a semester abroad in Buenos Aires. While there, I explored South America, visiting the shrouded Incan ruins of Machu Picchu, the roaring cataracts of Iguazu Falls, and the irreverent revelries of Rio De Janeiro's Carnival festivities. I worked, spending summers on a cattle ranch in northern Wyoming and hiking the peaks and forests of the Rocky Mountains in my spare time. I also developed an interest in the political realm, interning at the United Nations under Ambassador Noel Sinclair, taking part in the Occupy Wall Street movement, and joining the political and social actions group Students for Justice in Palestine. Throughout these adventures my worldview remained in a state of constant formulation. It seemed that for every ounce of knowledge I gained, my overall understanding of the world around me grew more fleeting. Each new experience added substance while eluding clarity, magnified problems but provided few solutions, served me food for thought but no digestive tract with which to process it.

One thing, however, became increasingly clear to me: The world I live in, the world we share, is one currently dominated by a system that perpetuates unfathomable injustice and inequality. I was born into unimaginable privilege, having done nothing to deserve it, and yet until recently went about my life without giving a solitary fuck about the strife of the vast majority born into suffering and pain by sheer dumb luck. But that's not my problem, right? Not our problem as a society, not the system's problem, not something to be dwelt upon or troubled about, just a consequence of their culture of indifference and complacency, their lack of ambition, their inability to work hard or meet our naturally superior set of cultural norms (especially true if you listen to what the enlightened thinkers Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have to say).

But what about the privileged, a class seemingly increasingly defined by a culture of indifference to the plight of the rest? This is something that has really worn thin on me as of late. And so, following graduation, in lieu of sprinting headlong into the desperate rat race all bright-minded college students are indoctrinated to aspire to, I have elected to take a different path. Somehow I've managed to forgo the appeal of the life so fervently desired by a majority of my contemporaries boasting equally expensive, prestigious, and "valuable" degrees. I will resist the temptation of monotonous hours spent slaving away in a cubicle or some other equally fascinating site of corporate drudgery. Instead, I will devote a minuscule and, relatively speaking, quite unremarkable portion of my life to a cause that has captured my imagination, moved me deeply, and inspired me to action. Not to seem all high and mighty, but this small commitment seems to me a step in the right direction following a life that has thus far been filled with all the opportunity, privilege and earthly pleasures a 22 year old kid could ask for.

 I hope to accomplish at least the slightest bit of  positive change for a people who have been degraded and mistreated, pushed to the brink of inhumanity in a manner unfathomable to someone of my background. The Palestinians are an innocent third party unfortunate enough to inhabit a land fallen prey to the designs of foreign powers motivated by horrific circumstances beyond their knowledge or control. Their land remains occupied by an overwhelmingly superior power that is funded and unequivocally supported by my government. The same government I pay taxes to and pledged allegiance to steadfastly every day of my youth, with hand on heart and eyes on stars and stripes. I don't think that is right, and I'm tired of standing idly by while more and more gets  destroyed in this world by forces with which i feel in some way complicit, and at the expense of those rendered too weak to defend themselves. That is who I am, and that is why I'm going.

But enough of the overly intense political and philosophical stuff. It's late, I have a flight in the morning, and before long I'll be in the West Bank.  Peace, love, and in the words of the immortal Rage Against the Machine:

 "Fight the War, Fuck the Norm."