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[For an audio/vlog version of this story, click here.]

‘When men choose not to believe in God, they do not thereafter believe in nothing, they then become capable of believing in anything.’

Overcoming Social Studies Syndrome

‘I can do many things, but I don’t want to do that.’

It’s not exactly the best argument for being a theist, is it? It could be said to promote ignorance, impede inquisitiveness: ‘Just believe in God and shut out all the other noise.’

Nonetheless, I can see where the English writer, G.K. Chesterton, to whom the quote is attributed, was coming from. A belief in a god that promotes personal development, humbleness and virtuousness — without being domineering — isn’t the worst creed one could follow. Yet, however sound the theory, the practice of it is often found wanting.

And where traditional religions are on the wane, some folk feel the need to fill the void with even more pernicious creeds and systems of control.

A sceptic at heart, I eventually ditched the dogma of the Catholic Church imposed on me from birth, while I’ve yet to cave in to the postmodernist militia taking over much of the West.

Yet, a version — of sorts — of Chesterton’s epigram applies to me.

It goes thus: When men don’t focus on one specific career, they then thereafter are capable of doing almost anything yet often end up doing very little.

Such an affliction appears to be quite pronounced for humanities, arts and social sciences (Hass) graduates, as I am: a Social Studies Syndrome, to give it a label.

‘One approach is to find a preferred place/country to work in first and then find the means to live there.’

Courses in social studies generally give one a decent introduction to a broad range of subjects. A Bachelor of Arts degree can open many doors. However, therein lies a potential problem. It doesn’t give one a clear career path in the way that studies in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (Stem) tend to do.

Those latter disciplines also have a very practical application in everyday life. For example, there’s a constant demand for both digital and physical infrastructure to be built and maintained. We’re also always looking for ways to improve our health and that of other flora and fauna with whom we share this planet.

To be blunt, Stem subjects are fundamental to progress (they can and do, of course, lead to destruction, too). Social studies are nice extras but are far from essential for our existence. What good is a philosopher or psychologist when we’re faced with *real* problems, actual oblivion?

For sure, there is more to life than just the physical and there are always moral issues at play in our actions. Yet, without clean water to drink, healthy food to eat and a safe environment in which to live we won’t be in a position to give such metaphysical matters much thought.

Place dependent
Nonetheless, some of us are predisposed to concerns of a more metaphysical and moral nature. And in a well-run world — or one at least trying to be such — there is space and a need for such types.

The challenge for the social studies student is to find a well-remunerated, fulfilling outlet for his/her talents.

Many may find themselves switching jobs frequently but that in itself isn’t a negative. Where loyalty to an employer was seen as a positive in the past, this is less so in today’s environment of relatively poorly paid, often soul-destroying gigs.

Some employment opportunities suited to those coming from a humanities background are in the work-from-anywhere category. This can be a bonus, especially for those inclined to wanderlust.

Such a scenario, in theory anyway, allows one to choose a preferred place/country to work in first and then find the means to live there, rather than the reverse. To put it another way, go on a vacation first, then find your vocation, temporary as it may be.

I have done that to a certain degree with Colombia. My problem of late is that I’ve lost enthusiasm for the main means that I had to make ends meet here — English teaching. And remote working is a concept for which I have little love.

So there are various things that I could do either here in Colombia or elsewhere to earn a living but I’m not prepared — or in a desperate enough position, yet — to do anything.

The challenge now is to find something to believe in; and something that generates an income at that. This blog does accept donations, by the way.
Listen to The Corrigan Cast podcast here.

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La vida en Colombia desde la perspectiva de un periodista y locutor irlandés, quien ha vivido en el país desde 2011. El blog explora temas sociales y culturales, interacción con los nativos, viajes, actualidades y mucho más. Escucha su podcast acá: https://anchor.fm/brendan-corrigan.

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