Critique from James

I sat down with my fellow classmate and fellow military veteran, James Vanie, over a very spicy meal of Vegetable Biryani in a small Indian restaurant near Chambers and Church St in lower Manhattan to have him provide some critique on my initial post and image cluster describing my ideas for thesis. I hoped that his comments would make me sweat less than the spices from my meal were making me .

His critique was more of a dialogue about how to think differently about my subject matter. Since I am interested in how debt shapes the choices that people make in their lives, James asked the inverse to that question: What would people do if they had no debt? Would being debt-free allow people to make riskier choices in their lives? This is an interesting mode of thought. The general thought is that people are born either risk averse or risk prone, but I find that too simplistic. Yes, some people might have more of a tendency to take risks in their lives, but experience can be a powerful ingredient to how risky people choose to be in life. Constraints or restrictions that debt can create in a person’s life may have different effects on how much risk they feel comfortable having in their lives. Some people may become more conservative, while others might become bolder. The question this leads to for my explorations is if people can find fulfillment on both sides of the risk spectrum. Do risk prone or risk averse people find more fulfillment in their lives?

Another question raised in our dialogue was if fulfillment is tied to economic and social status. Should it? This leads to discussing whether or not people who graduate from higher education experience more fulfillment in their lives compared to those who maybe just have a trade skill. Why has there been such a huge push towards gaining a college degree in our society when people made livings off of these trade skills for generations? I’m not sure at this point and will need to investigate this line of thinking further.

A final question he left me with was an ethical one:

Should the education of humanity have a fee?

That is a powerful question and it is one that challenges the very nature of our capitalist society, but it brings me back to my initial inquiry. Why do we value violence as a form of service for a means towards an affordable education over those who simply seek to increase their own personal value through the pursuit of an education, whether it be through higher institution or trade school?

It looks like I still need to talk to more people to delve deeper into this matter.

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