Humans are interesting creatures. We engage in a variety of activities: some for the purpose of receiving remuneration, others with the goal social acclaim in mind, a number which add to our personal leisure and a few which allow us to better the world around us. It is likely, I’m sure, that individuals have other reasons for partaking in a particular activity and that these reasons may overlap. All this is applicable to those who choose to pursue activities such as writing. As for me? I write because I don’t believe I’d be able to do much else.
George Orwell names egoism as one motivation to write. He proposes that most people ultimately lose their will to be different and merge with the rest of society to live “smothered under the drudgery”, making a will to succeed a characteristic in the select-few individuals striving for success. For the purpose of this post, I would like to equate Orwell’s drudgery with despondency and apathy and, in some perverse way, I believe I write because of these feelings.
In recent years, psychologists, public figures, politicians and others who presumably know about these things alike have addressed the rise in despondency around the globe. One recent example was Donald Trump, who spoke extensively on the topic throughout his presidential campaign. While I claim no connection to any statistics bureau, it surprised me to learn that men in the US labour force have only a third of the chance of finding a job as they did fifty years ago. This means that they are three times less likely to find a job as their grandfathers did. This topic was addressed by the current Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, in a New York Times article. In the article, the Dalai Lama writes that people are becoming increasingly susceptible to isolation, indignation and apathy because, “[they] feel they are no longer useful, no longer needed, no longer one with their societies.”
While there may be a lot to be despondent about in today’s world, who can’t suppress a giggle watching the Dalai Lama’s impression of current US President, Donald Trump?
Of course, the South African in me screams that I should not have an iota of worry for the American man, yet how can I not relate to these figures when South Africa has an official unemployment rate of 26%? For those to whom statistics mean little, effectively one in four South Africans neither has a job, nor has received any potential employment opportunities in the past three months. How could this reality not contribute to a sense of despondency and apathy among citizens, particularly the youth like myself?
(Image Source: BusinessTech)
Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) releases quarterly data on a range of South African economic variables. Unemployment is a key factor in judging society’s progress.
Thus, having grown up among books and receiving significant encouragement as a child/adolescent to pursue a career surround by words, I found myself grasping at the one path which might exempt me from this life of misery: writing. If devoting myself to developing a voice which might bring me out of banality and make me an exception, then this is what I will do. If my goal in life is to escape the vicious cycle drudgery and apathy, then I will follow in Orwell’s footsteps by striving to live a life defined by egoism and a will to succeed.