Finding Raison d’État

Food for Thought

This experimental bar in East Williamsburg is a good example to highlight the importance of cheap real estate to foster creativity. I went there because it’s one of the few places (if not the only) in the city that sell raw kvass, a fermented bread drink. They are also brewing their own small-batch “meads,” which I knew nothing about.

We cannot afford to be creative if we have to constantly worry about making the rent every month. We have to have room and time in our lives to experiment without the pressure to make money from it.

The saddest part of the American education system today is that everyone seems to see education as a means to make money. Many people today are encouraging kids to skip college because it’s incapable of preparing them for their careers. They argue that it’s better to just start working; learn on the job. I agree that the best way to learn how to make money is to start making money, but there is more to life than making money. We have many decades of our lives to learn it.

For my daughter, what I want her to learn in college is why she wants to live, rather than to die, her raison d’état. That is not easy to figure out and she may not find a definitive answer in college but college should be where she starts exploring it because it will become harder as more obligations pile up in her working life.

After all, if you do not know why you want to live, what is the point of knowing how to make money? Money is just a tool or medium to do what you want to do in life. The idea of making money without knowing why you want to live is depressing. You would just be living because you don’t have a choice. Kierkegaard defines eternal hell as precisely this: Despair where death isn’t even an option.

So, first thing first. Kids should have as much fun as possible in college without worrying about having to make money. Find their raison d’état and then worry about how to make money afterward.