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Bursting the Bubble

By Tiffany Kosolcharoen

I am selfish. Yes, I know I just broke a rule of my 15.279 class: never begin a paragraph with ‘I.’

Everyday, I read the “Marketplace” section of The Wall Street Journal to prepare myself for a business career, only glancing at the world headlines: “Israeli tanks enter Rafah refugee camp” and “Saddam hides in Tikrit.”

Perhaps if war affected me more, I would understand it better. If the front page reported what Saddam had for dinner, how much sleep Bush got last night, or if the weather is going to be really lousy in Guantanamo Bay, I could relate.

Sleep, food, and weather. In the juicy Xanga blog entries I fight (and fail) to ignore, I notice something. Here we are at MIT, the university among universities, and we still only complain about our own trivial lives.

My friend keeps this piece of advice on her AOL Instant Messenger profile to help MIT folk out:

“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; but remember that what you have now was once among the things you only hoped for.”

-- Epicurius

Although I have been a news writer for The Tech for a year, I realize that nobody reads headlines such as “Over Half of Next House Occupied by Class of ’07” unless you are a Next House resident or an ’07 student.

It is no surprise that more people read “Sex and the Saferide” than the most recent twist in the flag saga. You are probably reading this column because it is not news.

However, the lack of knowledge we have on issues that affect others is concerning.

Speaking of caring, when was the last time you did something out of pure selflessness? No, I am not referring to the time I donated money to the saxophone player at the T-stop. That had an ulterior motive: I benefited from his music.

Giving money is the easy way out, commonly known as fishing for a man instead of teaching him how to fish.

When was the last time you reached out to a classmate in recitation to learn his or her name before the end of the school year? I shamefully admit I do not know the names of everyone with whom I brush my teeth (although on good hair days, I will have the audacity to ask).

When was the last time you enriched someone else’s life? And giving answers away on problem sets does not count! When I answered this question for myself, nothing instantly popped up. I am unfortunately digging deep for something non-school related.

I challenge you to get involved. Ms. Kampf, my high school government teacher, said that you can be a political activist if you merely vote once a year (props to my sister, Tracy, who filled out my California absentee ballot for the chaotic gubernatorial election!) or get involved in a protest (wait, doesn’t that mean I have to read the news?).

“Sometimes a scream is better than a thesis.”

-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sure, 80 units and a brain on Red Bull might interfere with the time needed to understand the issues and join a protest. So at least take a stand! Join an MIT club. Start your own organization. Speak up!

I recently learned that a club I joined is hosting an event to teach local first- through third-grade Girl Scouts about math and science.

For once, I am excited about something other than the next suicide prevention day or Krispy Kreme study break. It is the discovery of pure, selfless joy.