A review of history

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Our perception of historical figures, whether great or terrible, is precisely that, a perception. We picture events in the past as being a certain way, often painting a rosier picture of people and events than is accurate. Reflecting on the current political climate is significantly above my pay grade, however one thing as been made more and more apparent to me as I watch events happen around the world- we often redefine historical figures and historical people to better match how we want the world to be. Allow me an example. Alexander Hamilton is currently a role model to many especially since the Broadway musical launched. Certainly there are many aspects of Alexander Hamilton’s life that are laudable. His work ethic in drafting our current economic system. His willingness to state his opinion no matter the cost. His enthusiasm for creating a better country. The thing that people love about the musical in today’s political climate is the fact that a young immigrant who began with nothing, invented and defined the financial system in America. However to get to place Alexander Hamilton on the pedestal of virtue and greatness much has been glanced over. For approximately year Hamilton had an affair with a woman 11 years younger. Throughout his life he was impatient and tirelessly self promoting to the point at which his relationship with George Washington was damaged. Although Aaron Burr is painted as the villain (which is certainly deserved) it was the constant battles for honor and reputation which lead them to that point- a point where verbal arguments were escalated to the level of deadly duals. Taken together, Hamilton did incredible things yet was a broken human being like the rest of us. And that is how is has always been and will always be. Humans rising to incredible heights to take on great challenges while at the same time often falling short of our own expectations and ideals. So let us not become disillusioned believing that we are worse today than the great people of old. Rather let us take hope in the fact that we too can do great things even as we stumble along the way.

A career or a calling

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Often the words career and calling are used together. ‘Find your career and calling’ was a familiar catch phrase during my time in college; however, as ideal as this seems, the truth seems to be more complicated.

My reflection on the topic, albeit brief, has made the phrase ‘career or calling’ perhaps more accurate. Before determining what one’s career and calling is, it seems that one should first decide whether they want a career OR a calling. The difference, as slight as it may seem, is of the utmost important. If one wants a career, they can hope for a job where they are gainfully employed, being a productive member of society for 40 hours a week. They count on a paycheck at regular intervals, and given the choice between working or recreation, they are bound to select recreation as long as their 40 hour a week obligation has been met. However, if one wants a calling they are asking for an obsession. Something that occupies them not merely during the hours they are at work, but something on which they think, dwell, scheme, and pontificate at all hours of the day and night. This doesn’t mean that nothing else exists for them outside of that, but it does mean that they are working for the love of what they do. If one asks for a career they can complain about long hours, low pay, and few vacation days; however if one asks for a career the hours, pay, and vacation mean little, whereas the resources to make progress, the dedication of the team, and the creativity of those around them are key. Career and calling are different.

Neither career nor calling is superior to the other. Rather one must simply decide which version of life they choose. Many will choose career because it is safe, secure, and there are firm limits to what can be asked of you. However some will choose calling because they are curious, even troubled, by all they see around and can’t help but act.