Law in Contemporary Society
Jess: I saved this under a new revision. My comments are still in the original. I hope this is faithful to the points you wanted to make. --Jeffrey

A friend of mine from college recently returned to the United States from an extended trip to Uganda where she was working on a project for a non-profit organization called Givology. The name of the project was “What would you do with $50?&#8221 She travelled to rural villages in Uganda and met with various groups of children. Each child was asked to draw a picture of what they would buy if they had $50. After collecting hundreds of drawings, she returned to New York with her co-workers to organize a fundraiser in Tribeca. The illustrations that she collected were being sold for 50 dollars each, and the proceeds went primarily towards providing education to children who otherwise could not afford one.

While I had looked forward to attending this event, I came away from it with feelings of sadness, fear, and disgust. Seeing hundreds of photos of children alongside their drawings of all the things they did not have brought me face to face with poverty in a way that I had not experienced before. I am not sure why the crayon drawings of things like ipods and banana trees had a more profound effect on me than the hundreds of homeless people I see on the streets of New York everyday, but they did. Since then, I have found myself unable to stop thinking about these children and their drawings.

A large part of me wants to archive this event as my token act of goodwill for the semester, forget about the poor kids, and move on. I should be spending my time studying for my exams, not worrying about kids in rural Uganda. The "plan" for law students is clear: study, get good grades, go to EIP, get a job at a place with a fancy name, success. But Eben has urged us not to follow the plan merely to assuage our present anxiety. He argues that if we follow the plan, we could very well end up unhappy. So instead of forgetting about these children until the next fundraising event, I increasingly find myself thinking about their situation, my situation, and way in which the two are linked.

While the aftermath of attending this fundraiser has mostly been confusion, I have since been able to accept two difficult truths, both of which have been discussed in this class.

First, my anxiety drives me. Eben has correctly stated that many of us will choose career paths that are not right for us because we are motivated by fear. This is true; however, I sense that there are two strains of anxiety that I feel, and that each type pushes me towards a dramatically different career path. The first type of anxiety is fueled by financial pressure, fear of social and familial rejection, and fear of the unknown. It compels me to stick to the script that society has written for me without asking any questions. The ivy league lawyer can attend fundraisers, but she's not supposed to waste her time running them.

The second type of anxiety, which has been largely created by the lectures in this course, is fueled by the fear that I will realize one day that I’ve chosen the career and lifestyle that aren’t right for me. This is what I felt after attending this fundraiser. Poverty matters to me now, and the existence of extreme poverty sickens me. While I don’t understand what role I am able to play in helping to fix it, I do know that, whatever this role is, it would suit me better than working for a law firm. At the same time, though, I don't want to live in poverty myself, and I don’t know where to draw the invisible line which dictates the point at which I stop doing for myself and begin doing for others.

Although both varieties of anxiety affect me, the first kind is much stronger. While Eben's lectures and my own feelings about global poverty do have an impact, they don't stand much of a chance against my crippling fear of stepping off of the more conventional path.

The second truth, which is simpler though equally important, is that my legal degree will give me more power to enact change than I previously had. I will have a bigger weapon than I had before entering law school, and I will be responsible for the ways that I use it. I am the only person who will be accountable for the decisions that I make and the effects that my decisions have on society.

I wish I could end this essay with a neatly drawn conclusion, but any neatly drawn conclusion would be a lie. Since this is the only class where honesty seems to be the prevailing value, I have chosen to remain honest at the expense of producing a more ideally crafted essay. There is no conclusion because I have no conclusion; I can only say that I feel confused about what career I want to pursue and how I will proceed. I’ve finally admitted to myself that there really is a better option for me than the conventional route, but giving up the "plan" might simply be too frightening.

-- JessicaGuzik - 17 Apr 2010


Webs Webs

r8 - 13 Jan 2012 - 23:34:29 - IanSullivan
This site is powered by the TWiki collaboration platform.
All material on this collaboration platform is the property of the contributing authors.
All material marked as authored by Eben Moglen is available under the license terms CC-BY-SA version 4.
Syndicate this site RSSATOM