Saturday, January 30, 2010

So maybe we can't change the world

This week I had a really inspiring and humbling meeting with Ugo Mattei, the founder of the IUC and a renowned critic of modern theories of law and economics.

I met with Mattei to ask about his vision for making the world more fair and to find out what he thinks we can do to help. We had watched a movie about the impact of privatization in Argentina and Mattei spoke about how the law needs to be changed from having economics at the center, with profit growth as the ultimate achievement, to a new system that is more sustainable in the long term. I asked, but how can we change the laws when the people who make law are those that profit from them? He responded that what we really need is social change, not a quick fix as so many Americans are used to expect.

As we talked I went on about how I wanted to make a difference and what I thought I should study and then paused to wonder whether I really could have any impact anyway. He stopped me there and made a point that has both lifted a sense of burden and encouraged me to continue on in my quest. He said, but we can't walk down this path only with the intention to make a difference. We have to just focus on doing our own work well and then perhaps one day if a change comes we will be ready to take advantage of it.

My mom summarized this idea well, using a Buddhist philosophy. We have to live our lives taking responsibility for our actions, all the while letting go of the results. We can't be attached to the end product because then we may be disappointed or we may become lost along the way because our focus is distracted.

So now I feel somehow confident in my plans to continue studying globalization. I no longer feel like I need to know how I will make a difference, but by simply keeping my eyes and ears open I will be ready when my chance arrives.