Money equals nothing, knowledge equals power

When I tell people that I am a student they often ask, “What are you going to do with a degree?” or “What career do you want to pursue?” I usually tell them that I do not know what I want to do for a living or that I have yet to narrow down my options. People often seem very surprised by my response because many of them are under the impression that the only reason that people attend college is so that they can get high-paying jobs.

I would definitely like to make a comfortable living, and I know perfectly well that institutions of higher education are businesses, but that is not why I am a university student. I, like many students at PSU, have a sincere interest in learning. I do not know why that is such a hard concept for so many people to grasp.

I find it difficult to understand why people would go to school for the sole purpose of earning money. Students that do not care about learning only compromise the education of those who do by taking up class space and instructor attention. Is the desire for knowledge going extinct?

The sad part about the whole thing is that we are so incredibly spoiled. We take our education for granted, as if being able to attend college is some inevitable right and not a true privilege that the majority of the world’s population does not have. We spend so much time wallowing in self-pity and focusing on the purely superficial. How many of us are truly appreciative of all that we have?

As you read this, you are probably not thinking about how very fortunate you are that you can read. Literacy is a privilege. Plenty of people lack the reading and writing skills that most westerners have gained by age 10.

If you feel thirsty, you can get up and go to a drinking fountain. You will find an abundance of clean water that you can drink, free of charge. Alternatively, if you are picky, you can fork over a dollar (which is a lot more than many people earn in a day) for a bottle of cleverly packaged water.

Then we can run around, complaining about the cost of a double mocha and feeling sorry for ourselves because we have to live in small apartments and eat rice and beans instead of haute cuisine. Few of us realize that there are families who live in tiny huts and spend days waiting in line for food aid as their malnourished children die in their arms.

Or, perhaps we can spend our free time protesting against companies that we do not even work for, simply because they do not give their employees health benefits and all-expenses paid trips to the Caribbean. All the while, there are people who do not have access to medical care, regardless of money.

Yet, we complain about what we do not have. I am guilty of it and so are every single one of you. We are so fortunate. Please, whatever you do, do not forget that. Take advantage of the privileges that you have been given, but do not take them for granted. After all, what is here today could easily be gone by tomorrow.