Politics, Religion, and Careers
I write a lot of articles on how to make your professional life better. One of the biggest reasons why so many of us struggle to find our ideal career and are miserable at work is because of just that: we struggle to find it. As if a perfect job is out there, waiting for us. This is no more true than there is one ideal political system or ideal country.
In fact, I’ll show you what I mean.
The Political Spectrum
In the United States, there are two major political parties with two boxed sets of opinions. When viewed completely objectively, both purport stances that are contradictory.
One of these sets dictates that it is fine to kill unborn babies, but it is against murdering an adult who has committed terrible crimes (capital punishment.)
The other believes that it is murder to kill unborn babies but it is fine putting grown adults to death.
When viewed like this, siding with one set of opinions looks completely absurd. But millions and millions of Americans follow this EXACT set of beliefs because they define themselves as “liberal” or “conservative” without actually taking a good, hard look at the facts. Many of us tie all of our beliefs to agree with one party, often blindly. In fact, it can be very difficult for people who are passionately tied to one political party to find ANYthing about the other that might be good. Why is this?
Because many people want to belong instead of create.
This is another area that interests me greatly. I’m always afraid to tackle subjects like these for fear of alienating my readers, but I think this is quite pertinent.
I have some problems with religion as a whole, but not in the way you might think. Spirituality is a wonderful thing. It helps people connect, grow, question, and find deeper meaning in life. Religion, in many cases, does the opposite.
The process of discovering and connecting with your spiritual beliefs can be wonderfully creative endeavor. However, when we are young, we are often brought into the religion of our parents’ choosing. This can take a lot of the fun out of finding your own spiritual path.
Once again, we are fitting into a box of pre-created beliefs rather than forming our own. And religious beliefs often have the same ties to political “boxes” that I was speaking of earlier. Why is it that the more “religious” a person is, the more “conservative” they are? Have you really stopped and thought about this? Why must one follow the other?
This is why religion can be divisive and is responsible for a lot of suffering in the world, both on a personal and global level. I am not saying that it is all bad, of course. Religious people tend to give more to charity than other groups. They report being happier, and the sense of community they derive from meeting people with like beliefs is tough to deny. But overall, the actual basis for religion seems to be part of the same idea that in order to have a “valid” belief, you have to call yourself “Christian” or “Jewish” or even “Atheist” or “Agnostic” for the non-religious.
Call it what you want, but try to come up with some of your own ideas. It is a healthy exercise.
How This Ties into Finding Your Ideal Career
If you want to find your ideal career, you will have to create it. Don’t expect to just go out there, apply for a job in your field of interest, take it, and be completely content. You probably won’t be.
For example: if you elect to become a Urologist, you will have to go to Medical School, study like mad for something like seven years, and then work 80 hours per week while you fix people’s plumbing.
It isn’t that being a Urologist is a bad thing. It’s just that it isn’t an ideal career for many people. Being a Urologist comes with some givens:
- You will work long hours
- You will have to get a license to practice medicine
- You will have to work with people
If you are designing your own career, rather than trying to fit into one that is already out there, you could create something that meets only the 3rd part of these “givens.”
Not everyone will read this article and understand, and that is totally fine. Some of us are content to find a path that is already out there and adapt to it. Some of us are fine being part of the Republican party and a member of the Catholic church and being a Loans Officer or Urologist. There is nothing wrong with that if you do. We need Urologists.
But it is wise to stop and question whether or not you want to box yourself in like this. Maybe you would be happier if you stopped trying to “fit in” and started making the world “fit you.” I’ve found that the harder road is often the one with the greatest potential for success.
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Rhoda November 19, 2009 at 7:54 am
Interesting article. I also think political and religious affiliation (or brainwashing) can scupper a person’s entrepreneurial or creative ability by building an unconscious or semi-conscious paradigm from which they then continue to operate, e.g. ‘Being weathly means you are a bad, greedy person,’ or ‘Being creative is a luxury; you are lucky to have a job – many people don’t.’ Etcetera. Even if a person is intellectually aware of the limitations of such arguments, the creativity-sapping effects associated with such politically or religiously-inspired self-talk can be hard to overcome because they are based on emotional conditioning, not intellect. Just a thought…
I really like this site, not least for its sense of humour 🙂
Mike November 20, 2009 at 3:21 pm
Thanks for stopping by! I’m glad you are enjoying the site. I definitely agree that there are a lot of self-imposed limitations floating around out there that result from some of our needs to “belong to something.” Our affiliative natures may help give us semi-artificial definition but can also take away our ability to discern our own reactions to things from our chosen “family” whether religious, political or social.