When I was a kid all I did was read. Every month I’d devour each syllable of the new National Geographic and Smithsonian magazines. I read cover to cover all of our coffee table books, Harvard classics and even the Encyclopedia Britannia sets (and cereal box backs!) when I’d run out of other things to read. LOVE history, geography, natural sciences and sociology. To this day I tell friends with kids that I believe I learned more, infinitely more, from all of the reading I did on my own than I really learned in school. English class might have taught me some formalities, but I can read and write like I do because of my free time activities. I feel as though I’ve already been to every country and experienced every odd animal and cultural oddity, because reading is being, for me.
As much as I love books, it was what I chose to read that became important to me.
My title comes from a really cool youtube video recording of a talk by British philosopher Alan Watts called *what if money was no object* that I have been pondering a bit today while thinking about a job I recently applied for with UNESCO Education sector.
Why pondering and why UNESCO? (I think great Scott, why didn’t I think of it earlier?!)
I’ve been continuing research on the ins and outs of working as a Design Strategist, including reading an interesting book called A Fine Line, about the subject. But I have been feeling deeply uncomfortable with the idea of working in a field driven by consumption, because I don’t want to work doing anything I feel contributes to the decline of the environment. Thankfully A Fine Line transitioned (on the day I was worrying about the environment most) into a section on environmentally responsible design and how the industry is moving towards sustainable design and production.
So, okay…feeling a little better about all that, but still I really want to do work that is valuable for the world (not valuable for people at the expense of the world) and will contribute to a better future. Questioning getting into a product design field is part of that.
Around this time I came across a piece of news about Syria that fired me up and led me to the position I applied for at UNESCO. When I applied for that job, and increasingly since, I realized that although there are countless things I find interesting and would love to participate in or pursue (and will, any chance I get) there is only one thing that reaches into my soul and makes me absolutely, beside-myself, physically-grabbed-and-shaken-by-it, passionately, lividly and absolutely driven to DO something whether anybody will hire me to do it or not.
Our history. Cultures, more specifically their arts and architecture. And the learning and appreciation and preservation of it all for the future.
OUR history… Which doesn’t belong to anyone, and isn’t anybodies to destroy.
A week or two ago I read in the news that all six World Heritage sites in Syria have been damaged or destroyed.
Did anybody even notice that?
ALL of them. For me it feels like somebody took all my childhood best imaginary friends and shat on them. How would you feel?
I read the article and it broke my heart. No… It made me want to crawl out of my own skin, grab the closest weapon and personally hunt down whoever did the damage, regardless of whether they were government, rebel or fundamentalist. I don’t care who did it, I just want to destroy them. And if that isn’t passion, I don’t know what is. It made me want to cry, more than hearing about the deaths from chemical weapons, more than thinking about all those refugees streaming into Jordan for escape – as gut wrenchingly sad as all that is.
The unthinking destruction of OUR history is unthinkable and unforgivable, to me.
The last time I felt that was when I heard about the Taliban destroying the Bamiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan.
But that feeling wasn’t heart-break. I remember it clearly, because it was instantaneous and took me by surprise. It was furious, murderous rage. Helpless, wall punching rage. I cannot fully express my visceral reaction to these acts.
Did I punch walls? No, I didn’t. And no, I’m not a violent person. And no, I’m not looking for a job killing people. I’m just talking about what MOVES me, in relation to my personal career change quest. I might seem melodramatic but I’m not, I’m simply not afraid to express exactly what I mean in words just strong enough to really make the reader feel it.
But seriously, if there’s a word bigger than furious I need to know what it is for this post.
The point is, punishment isn’t really a feasible career path for me, but preservation and education are well within my abilities.
The first time I really registered this feeling was in 2002 while watching Band of Brothers with an ex-boyfriend. I saw some gorgeous building in France, a monastery or convent or church or chateau (who cares, it was gorgeous) blown up and my reaction was immediate, visceral and vocal.
It started a fight when said ex- lost his shiznit** and started yelling at me about how disgusted he was that I was more upset over “the idea of loss of a building than the loss of all those American lives.” “How dare I not value all those soldiers…. blah blah blah white noise.”
I’m a former Marine, I don’t take those losses lightly. Okay, I see his point. I see how I’m not politically correct and I see how I can be misunderstood and cause offense.
My reply to him was that men start wars, men fight wars, men create physical conflict where they kill each other (and sometimes more often, innocent bystanders). So fine, kill each other. After all, it seems to be a biological imperative for some. **That romantic relationship didn’t last much longer.
I just don’t see where choosing to fight gives them the right to destroy the hard work of thousands of years of history in their aggression. To destroy the cultural accomplishments of millenia, and destroy their own children’s future.
So what else am I, about this particular passion of mine?
And that tells me something about this whole career change process, which is – why am I pondering multiple creative avenues, simply because I’m a creative person, but not pursuing this one thing that to me is so important it’s worth figuratively killing for?
Ha…then again, if UNESCO reads this they might assume I’m some wingnut psychopath and not consider hiring me.
I’m not! I have references. (psst, call me!)
Bamiyan – UNESCO youtube
Syria – UNESCO youtube