By Deanna Christy
The world’s grief is an immense weight on this generation. Millennials — those perceived to be lazy, undeserving slackers — are faced with seemingly insurmountable odds as they stare down unspeakable global tragedies. The world is beset with crises: Humanity is increasingly divided; disease, hunger and poverty are rampant; greed is the currency of the day; consumption is unchecked; broken relationships are the norm; terror reigns, and the majority is afraid.
The enormity of these issues is overwhelming, to say the least. I am one to shoulder that pain, fear and grief — to carry it within my heart until it becomes such a heavy weight on my soul that I must weep for fear of losing myself in it. I can’t help it. It’s in my nature to carry that feeling of hopelessness around with me. Ugliness is all around us, and it is difficult to look past that ugliness and see the small beauties that are present in everyday life. We are surrounded by terror, calamity and destruction, and at times, life seems too bleak to bear.
I seek only a profession that might allow myself to lighten the great burdens that affect so many.
I am afraid — intimidated and discouraged by the problems that will dominate our lifetime. I can’t help but take these problems on myself, and I am constantly dissatisfied with my life because I feel I am not doing enough to help.
In fact, I feel I am not doing anything to help.
“I am afraid — intimidated and discouraged by the problems that will dominate our lifetime. I can’t help but take these problems on myself, and I am constantly dissatisfied with my life because I feel I am not doing enough to help.”
I recently graduated from college with a degree in advertising, and now I work 9–6 (on non-busy days) at an advertising agency, making commercials for a coffee chain, a grocery store, a credit union, an insurance agency and a collection of online universities. My job allows me to do things like drive a Camaro convertible to work, challenge myself daily, write blog posts on industry happenings, develop strategy about how to best reach our clients’ customers, throw myself wholeheartedly into the behind-the-scenes of production and be on set during commercial shoots (yes, we actually use the black and white slate board and shout “Action!” on set).
I did not choose to be a doctor or a teacher, careers whose positive impact no one would question. I adore my chosen profession, but it is not one typically associated with positive social change or the improvement of humanity at large, which is challenging for me to swallow.
That is not to say I have accomplished nothing.
Ultimately, I get to be involved in creating work that I am proud of, which is a wonderful thing. I am grateful for my job and the company I work for, but a troubling thought haunts me: What am I doing to help solve the world’s laundry list of problems? Nothing, it seems, and that reality often leads me to despair.
During the aftermath of the attacks on Paris and the subsequent uproar about the world’s disregard for other countries in the midst of their own tragedies, a passage from the Talmud stopped me in my tracks: “Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.”
“I may not be solving the great issues of our day, but that does not mean that my contributions to the collective happiness of humanity are worthless and unappreciated.”
I am not Jewish, but this quote struck me. It forced me to take a step back and escape the spiral of hopelessness that threatened to overtake me.
I am not obligated to shoulder the world’s grief by myself. Nor am I obligated to single-handedly alleviate this grief.
These words made me feel at peace, comforted by the fact that there is still good in the world, and moreover, good to be done in this world, no matter how insignificant. I may not be solving the great issues of our day, but that does not mean that my contributions to the collective happiness of humanity are worthless and unappreciated.
There may be a day when I can use my skills for the betterment of humanity, and I pray to find that opportunity sooner rather than later. I hope that it won’t be long before I can apply what I have learned academically and professionally to a greater purpose. My deepest wish for my future is to do work that matters, not just to a bottom line or an income statement, but to actual people. I want to create campaigns that really matter, campaigns that are impactful and inspiring, campaigns that truly encourage people to work together and lift each other up.
I’m not there yet, but I hope to be one day. I know I will be one day.
Until that day, I will persist in compassion, walk steadfast in love and make absolutely certain that those around me are valued and respected.
The work will not be abandoned.
Deanna Christy is a creative firecracker intent on engaging with the world through explosive ideas, snappy writing and beautiful music. She lives in Lansing, Michigan.