In which I climb on the proverbial soapbox

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Or…in which I vent my academic status-related frustrations.

Dear (fictional) Mr Nimrod,

I am sick and tired of you pointing out the impracticality of my area of study. Yes, I am aware of the lack of readily-available, entry-level jobs. Yes, I know that it will very likely take years of underpaid overtime to establish myself professionally. Yes, I understand that your concern is my comfort and financial independence. I am certain you are completely altruistic in your constant belittling of my study choices. My answer to you well-meant barbs? WAKE UP NIMROD! Not everyone is cut for the -undeniably cutthroat- world of marketing/economics/business/whatever-well-established-career-path-you-suggest. I do not consider Humanities superior to any other discipline, why do I need to constantly defend it’s use to society? I mean, say what you will about Renaissance and Enlightenment era gender politics, but at least they got one thing right: every discipline that can be studied is important and ought to be studied. Heck! We’d probably be in less of a mess right now if people were not pushed/guilt-tripped into professions they are not suited for.

Admittedly this is written from my undeniably privileged point of view and I understand that sometimes making ends meet is more important. I completely understand. What I don’t understand is this trend of looking down on Humanities and Liberal Arts in favor of the more numerically-inclined degrees. Some tension between schools will be inevitably, much like any conversation with my brothers will inevitably lead to a boys vs girls debate. But I shouldn’t have to defend my preference for further studying over finding a job as soon as I get my BA. I shouldn’t have to explain why the subject(s) I love are worth my time and effort. I don’t call Math students “detached from reality” for enjoying the flow of equations, why should I be called so? And yes, I have been called so, as well as been told that my area of specialization had no practical applications.Well, guess what? If nobody bothered with those musty, dusty, old manuscripts I nerd about our understanding of history, past societies and what led to the formation of the modern world would be sorely lacking. Science doesn’t hold the answers to everything, nor should it.

Leonardo da Vinci was considered such a great scholar because of his wide field. Granted, the man was a genious, but, even by genious standards, his range of interests was insane! He was a painter, sculptor, architect, musician, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist, and writer. And that’s just from a Wikipedia gloss, so there’s probably more. Why can’t societies be more like that? Why can’t it be accepted that everything has its merit and ought to be cherished and studied (and hopefully understood)? It’s just that, you see. I shouldn’t feel like I have to defend myself and my choices, and yet I do. Why? Why can’t we just agree to disagree? Why can’t people get off their high horses long enough to admit that just because they don’t understand or don’t have interest in something that doesn’t mean that no one ought to be interested in it.

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