Sumeet Jain
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14 May 2011

Pursuing Good

I want to talk about piracy. It makes me furious that so many people in my generation have such little regard for other people’s creations. Where has respect for hard work gone? Surely the thieving members of my cohort can appreciate that someone’s life is inside the words, notes, and scenes of the files which are so easily added to their favorite peer-to-peer application… Right?

I don’t know. Maybe I’m just a dork who takes things too seriously - but I doubt it. Rather, I think that widespread theft is just a symptom of the much greater problem that people don’t make things anymore. When we make things, we gain a love for processes. We grow patient. We start to respect patience. But patience isn’t much of a virtue anymore - it’s largely been replaced by achievement. Desire for achievement without respect for patience is a dangerous thing. It’s the fundamental flaw of most villains in the stories we cherish.

Everyone is too wrapped up in their self-inflicted stresses to give a second thought to the fact that they’ve stopped caring about being good. There was a time - not long ago - when we aspired to be good. It was such a simple pursuit. What happened?

Perhaps you’re reading this and thinking, “This guy doesn’t understand. We’re not stealing from artists - we’re stealing from publishing companies, who are all assholes anyway.” But I beg you to be more honest with yourself. Admit to yourself that you don’t really care about the ethics of record companies and the legal details of contracts between artists and distributors. Admit to yourself that you just want more than you’re willing to work to achieve.

It’s good to have less than you want. Limitations help us value what we have. Valuing what we have helps us empathize with those who have less than we do. Empathy for the less fortunate among us encourages us to be more compassionate. It’s good to be compassionate. Can’t we make room in our minds for atheism, capitalism, and compassion? Surely there is space for all that and more.

Reject the temptation to write me off as yet another 20-something who decided to become a preacher on his blog. I’m more like you than you think. I see the way the world is headed - just like you. And I like it - just like you. But I have some fears, and shouting out to the cosmos makes me feel a little bit better. The cosmos are for shouting out to, after all.

When I’m in the company of loved ones, I’ll tell them the same things I’ve typed here - but in a softer voice. If you don’t respond well to shouting, come visit me. Let’s talk about this like people do. Let’s talk about how great the future is going to be - and how much greater it will be if we keep pursing good, too.