A title with both “hope” and “change” in it? No, this post is not about President Obama. “Growing” and “creeping”? No, it’s not about the GOP presidential candidates, either.
I saw a book yesterday that surprised me. Titled A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future, by Daniel H. Pink, the book argues that the age of medical, engineering and business careers is past, and a new age of teaching, story-telling and creative careers is upon us. This wasn’t surprising at all. I have full confidence that one day, writers will rule the world. The pen is mightier than the scalpel, after all.
What was surprising was the location where I discovered this book. It wasn’t at Barnes and Noble or the library; it was stocked at the library of the Glenview Ismaili Center, where I attend services. The library is a tiny little nook in the building and is filled with Islam-related books and publications by the Institute of Ismaili Studies. The bright pink book stood about among the maroons and navy blues of the other covers. It wasn’t just a random copy that someone may have donated; it was well-stocked, with four or five copies on a very visible shelf. If the entire shelf was New York City, this book would live in a brownstone on the Upper East Side.
I was confused. I even looked around a bit for one of the old women behind the counter to provide an explanation. But they continued perusing their books and adjusting their glasses. Then, as my confusion began to fade, a faint hope began to replace it. My first thought was, “It is so great that we stock this book and not something called, ‘100 More Reasons Your Kid Should Be a Doctor or Engineer.'”
As a society, South Asians can be super obsessed with status. This is nothing new; I’ve even complained about it before. Why is your doctor probably Indian? Because his or her parents had the view that becoming a doctor, which requires a lot of schooling and gives you a lot of compensation and stability, would be the career that would bring the most honor to the family. 60 years later, we have a serious shortage of successful South Asian artists, writers, teachers, graphic designers, architects, etc.
It seems that we have now begun to realize our folly and understand that what brings honor to a family and to a person is that person’s happiness, which doesn’t necessarily originate from a “respected” career. The fact that the library of an Ismaili Center, which has a congregation of mostly South Asians, would officially stock this book and encourage its members to read it gives me reason to hope that maybe, in a few decades, we’ll be seeing more photographers, as well as happier doctors and engineers.