Think of what we’ve come to. It is one of the great testaments to the intellectual—and moral, and spiritual—poverty of American society that it makes its most intelligent young people feel like they’re being self-indulgent if they pursue their curiosity. You are all told that you’re supposed to go to college, but you’re also told that you’re being “self-indulgent” if you actually want to get an education. Or even worse, give yourself one. As opposed to what? Going into consulting isn’t self-indulgent? Going into finance isn’t self-indulgent? Going into law, like most of the people who do, in order to make yourself rich, isn’t self-indulgent? It’s not OK to play music, or write essays, because what good does that really do anyone, but it is OK to work for a hedge fund. It’s selfish to pursue your passion, unless it’s also going to make you a lot of money, in which case it’s not selfish at all.
Go read the whole article; seriously, it's massively worth it. (And thank you yet *again* to Psuke for the awesome links!)
You could kinda knock me over with a feather right now. ;) Where I grew up, it was "wasting money" to go to college unless you had a clear idea of the money-pumping career you were aiming for (trade school was much preferred); and my decision to go for philosophy because I was passionate about it was met with….well. And whenever I considered moving to Boston, where my writing &etc. had a better chance of becoming a more solid and meaningful part of my life, someone was always there to frown at me for "acting like a child" and wanting silly, inappropriate things. Once I had a child the opinionating doubled…now that I was a mom, the theory went, all my passion and art and weirdness should have been finally fully subsumed to my womanhood, leaving nothing but a burning desire to clean the house, and a firm preference for tasteful clothes from Sears.
Of course, as many of you know, I did eventually move to Boston…because I could no longer get work amid the financial devastation wrought by the exact industry-obsessed attitudes that insisted on the primacy of work and money. I found a job — not just a good job, but a great job, making more than anyone in my family by a good long bit – and I'll be darned if my husband and I *still* didn't get frowned at for moving to a place that was "more artsy", that had a better music scene for him and writing groups for me…even IF you're going to make a bunch of money, if anyone suspects (as they doubtless do with me) that you're going to make that money in some way SO you can pursue things that you're passionate about, "useless" things like art and music and philosophy, then you're still suspect.
We are living in a dark age. If you doubt me in historical terms, go watch Terry Jones' Medieval Lives for a few episodes. ;) But if you have any awareness in you at all, you won't doubt me in social terms, especially not after the article above clears it up for you.
Don't worry. Galileo lived in the dark ages too, and he did alright. They may lynch us eventually, but if in the meantime we've pursued our passions, we'll be alright anyway.