Balance is everything, right? At least this has been a widespread philosophy preached from the mouths of great Eastern thinkers to parent and career management courses. So why isn’t this same support of a balanced society being copied into the heart and soul of academia? Economics and prestige seem to unfairly support only one side of the spectrum – the practical. Don’t misunderstand me, I have all the respect in the world for the fields of mathematics and science. Not only are they essential for a high-functioning and productive society, but it also is vital that those who elect to take on their challenge are graciously rewarded. I also feel those who elect to travel the slightly different path of independent thought and artistic creation deserve the same amount of respect.The world needs just as many independent and critical thinkers as computer analysts, but we are bred to believe from the time that we begin school that the scientist in the lab jacket is somehow more important than the radical philosopher. Both are necessary, but just inhabit different slots of our societal machine. Yet because of the widespread mentality society supports, many artists are forced to put down their paintbrushes and pick up calculators instead because the bills won’t get paid once the diploma comes with “fine arts” instead of “engineering.” I have seen too many of my peers and those slightly older than myself journey into fields following the motive of wealth, or in many cases simple survival, and now find themselves pressed in the black hole of employment depression. I hate to say it, but those that study a field they don’t follow with passion have little chance of being satisfied later in life. If we could shift the emphasis from the technical and scientific and distribute it equally with the humanities and higher culture, perhaps our society would be more content. I’m not trying to design some kind of an ideal utopia, but I feel that because of this problematic distribution of prestige in our society too many people unnecessarily stress between what society prefers and what we as individual beings prefer. As a result, many surrender themselves toward the wrong conclusion. We are pumping out many people who can run the world on computer, but not enough individuals who can write, create and converse with knowledge. We need to find a healthy balance between the practical and the liberal. Part of reaching this balance includes attributing prestige to the liberal thinkers and artists as well as chemists and engineers. Without both sides of the equation, we would be living in a dull, depressingly flat world.
Lisa Bhungalia is a senior English major from Springboro, Ohio.