I joined the Navy at age 19 in 2004, and left in june of 2008. My first goal in l... more
I joined the Navy at age 19 in 2004, and left in june of 2008. My first goal in life was to play the piano, and I had planned on going to school for music when I left the Navy. When I left the Navy however, I felt an emptiness from what I felt was a lack of accomplishment, particularly my failure to graduate from a certain program in the Navy. (I also began popping about a year before I left the Navy.)
To deal with the emptiness I decided I wanted to do something altruisitic, though still on the side, so I would feel I had a meaningful life even if I never made decent music. At that time I don't think I had many concrete political opinions. I wanted to see someone who really had a passion for doing good in the world, and understand how the world worked. I had heard so much about Ralph Nader, that I figured I might look into that person. I went to see him speak at the University of San Diego, where only about a hundred people showed up. I was impressed by his sincerity ... I was used to campaign speeches being empty of information, but I thought I was actually learning at this rally. One of the most impressive parts of the rally was the fact that no newspaper staff showed up, so his claim that he was being blocked out of the political process seemed very credible.
I enjoy debates as a way of learning about something, and I think I just started doing a search on political debates. I came across the well known 'debate' between Chomsky and Buckley. (I'm not too sure what I thought about Vietnam then. I had heard about the domino theory that Michael Albert says is for the masses, and I thought that was the stupidest thing I ever heard.) Strangely, the only time I had heard of Chomsky before that was in a Steven Pinker book about language, and of course it didn't say anything about Chomsky's political views. I could tell that youtube clip would be a siginificant moment in my life as soon as I saw it. For one, I hadn't heard someone speak as clearly and rationally as Chomsky in debate (I still watch debates for entertainment, and rarely find people as fun to watch). For another, Chomsky made morality exciting.
I admire writers at Zmagazine. For whatever reason, I think it is really admiration for people like them that motivates me to try to be a responsible person more than a gut feeling of solidarity with the world. I think that wathing people put all their money into giant televisions has made it difficult for me to think of everyone in the world as real people. When someone I can easily admire cares about other people though, it becomes easy to care about others as well. Probably just a basic psychological phenomenon there.
In any case, I have shifted my goals to focus much more on studying politics and economics, only because I hope that I can be useful at some point. I'm currently trying to figure out what to do at my community college. I am currently planning on standing next to the cafeteria speaking about things I think are important, hoping to start discussions.