Where have all the [idealistic] cowboys gone?

21 Jan

I had recently began to question where all of the idealism had gone in AIESEC.

A prime example of this: At the national conference during a networking session when we were directed to break into small groups and discuss our interests, life goals, dreams, and plans, I had to listen to a guy talk for 5 minutes about how his life goal was to make 6 figures playing online poker…he was already making 5, and he “didn’t even like playing it, it’s like work, but-
I guess it pays the bills.”

So, your life goal is to make one more figure doing something you don’t even like?

He went on to say that he “had never thought of a career or job as a place that you can make a difference.”

What?! Do you know what conference you’re at?

I know I shouldn’t judge, but I wanted to punch him in the face and tell him to leave. He was actually anti-inspiring.

But tonight as my friends watched/helped me clean my room, Shakira’s Ojos Asi came up on my playlist. I started dancing the AIESEC roll call around my room and I explained to them why I knew a choreographed dance to that song.

I was like “Yeah, you could never join AIESEC because of all the dancing, hey Alex?” (She only finds dancing acceptable if it’s at a party, where the lighting is very dim, and the floor is very crowded-hence, there is no elaborate dancing going on)

She responded, “Let’s be real Molly, the reason I couldn’t join AIESEC is because of everyone in it’s unstoppable optimism.” (Alex would like to be very clear that she rolled her eyes while saying “unstoppable optimism”)

So, I am going to stop questioning, and step up to the charge of being “Unstoppably optimistic.” I believe that everyone will re-realize that the world can use a little idealism, a little creativity and innovation, a little flexibility and ambition, a little belief.

I am assuming that I will be completely drained of this idealism by the time I’m 40, so we might as well (no, we better) blow shit up and make a change while we’ve got it in us.

They might not remember, but I do: When I took Eric and Kyle’s class we had a discussion about what we could do next. They said (something to the effect of): “You guys are all still young enough that you can choose a path and a career that will allow you to create the impact and change that you desire.”

And I thought, how lucky am I that I get to spend all of my effort on changes that I think are important, shaping a world that I imagine it can be.

Your job can be a vehicle for change. You can be a vehicle for change. You can choose your path. You don’t have to start a revolution, start by positively impacting the ten people that cross your path tomorrow; or start a revolution, too. Blow shit up. Be alive and inspired. Be Inspiring. Live the Dream.

Your 40th Birthday Party isn’t going to be near the adventure that this will be, so what are you waiting for?

For my 40 and up readership (probably just my dad): I love you dearly, and your 100th Birthday Party, though impressive, will not be nearly the adventure that these next years can be, so what are you waiting for?


7 Responses to “Where have all the [idealistic] cowboys gone?”

  1. Ariane January 21, 2008 at 12:07 pm #

    The longer I’m around our organization, the more I realize that some people in AIESEC aren’t actually AIESECers. There are so many people in AIESEC that just got swept up in a poor recruitment drive and are going through the motions, like Mr. Poker Guy. It’s the same in Qatar; it’s the same in any of the 103 @ countries. (And it’s not our job to ‘convert’ those who aren’t there yet. It is our job to find those like us and give them an outlet for that idealism.)But it’s the passion and idealism of those true AIESECers that keeps me going. At Madison, we were so lucky to have an incredibly high concentration of those curious souls. Yes, create change, change lives, live the dream, but know that it’s your individual connections with others that really makes the difference. Would you be the same person you are today without knowing those that came before you?

  2. Hero of the Light January 21, 2008 at 1:43 pm #

    I would be careful with your generalizations. People join the org for various reasons; people have different ideas of what it means to “help” others and people perceive having an impact in different ways. I´m not sure if unfettered idealism is a prerequisite to being an AIESECer. The org has always struggled to balance its idealistic backbone, which has helped it in some ways and harmed it in others.Idealism is important, but there’s a fine line between idealism and naivete; between vision and illusion; between dream and fantasy. From where I sit right now, it is obvious that optimism and good intentions are not enough.As for the Gambler, it might not have much to do with idealism. Maybe he’s just a douchebag.

  3. Molly January 22, 2008 at 12:52 am #

    I think it definitely has to do with the people that came before me and the connections I’ve made with others through AIESEC– but generally the reason I enjoy the people I meet is because they inspire me.(for example, ariane and adam you both inspire me 🙂 “help” clearly has been defined millions of ways a hundred times over, and I’m open to all of these interpretations, it doesn’t have to be my definition…but since the mission of AIESEC is cultural understanding through global exchange there is inherently an action piece in the mission-cultural understanding, which would imply that some type of change is occurring, or it’s hoped that it will occur.optimism and good intentions are never enough, but I think it can be a start. Clearly a persons world view, including their idealism or lack thereof, is often shaped by their current point of view and experiences…but often the most supreme optimism and idealism is born out of the most heartbreaking of circumstances– because of no real opportunities otherwise. I just think it’s better to always maintain a sliver of hope rather than always walking around partially defeated, until something better comes along.my views are skewed because i’m an extremist, and when I think of the absence of idealism, I don’t think rationalism, I think: crying in a corner.that gambler was for sure a douche bag.

  4. Brownie January 22, 2008 at 3:17 am #

    It’s funny cause I just read your comment on my blog and then I read this entry and it made me smile, cause after I read your comment I was like, “this is why I love AIESECers.” 🙂 The people I’ve met in AIESEC (gambling douchebags aside) have been the ones to inspire me the most and give me the most hope for our future. There may be a few bad seeds every now and then, but I think that, ultimately, the people in this organization are the ones who can find that sliver of hope even in the most dire situations.

  5. el guante January 22, 2008 at 11:08 pm #

    i would never have addressed a mixed-gender group as “you guys.” stop LYING!interesting thoughts though. as someone who is rarely considered an idealist or optimist or even a nice person, i can say that it’s important to judge people by their impact on the world around them rather than their vibe or outward characteristics.some of the best activists i know are, to quote all of you, “douchebags.”but maybe all that is beside the point. sometimes i start writing comments while my brain forgets what the original post was about.

  6. el guante January 22, 2008 at 11:09 pm #

    also, i’m working on the starfish video. don’t worry.

  7. Molly January 23, 2008 at 3:34 am #

    kyle- (el guante, just so everyone knows who I’m addressing)in response to your comment: I agree that you should judge people on their impact on the world around them– but sometimes their impact is directly related to their general vibe or outward characteristics. I think that impact isn’t only measured on a grand scale, but also on the smallest of scales: holding a door open for someone, smiling at people on the street, etc. generally positively impact people.so you should take your sunglasses and crabby look off your face as you stroll around the twin cities streets in order to start positively impacting people. haha jk I know I know the sunglasses are for the bright lightand I know I know that an idealistic attitude doesn’t equate to progress…but to some degree I think that peoples’ expectation of a certain situation directly affects the outcomes-so sometimes an optimistic attitude is helpfulp.s. I’m excited for the starfish video….you should start on the “mommy effect” next, not because I need it, but just because I like it…don’t you think you should at least get sound recordings of all of those somewhere? are any of them on the new CD?

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