There are two things I believe in so passionately that they drive the direction and course of my very existence. The first is the power of an impassioned, energetic individual with a vision to alter the course of history. This transformative power (or is it a responsibility?) is what Buckminster Fuller referred to as a ‘trimtab solution.’ A trimtab is “a tiny rudder on the trailing edge of the main rudder that causes an initial momentum to allow the main rudder to turn with less effort.” In other words, these great individuals make it easier for society to turn in a new direction, by giving their surroundings a push.
The second thing that guides me is a belief in the goodness and ability of all people to respond to and solve challenges. People recognize enthusiasm, greatness, passion, desire and sincerity, and they respond to it. Just as humans are naturally drawn to pondering the nature of existence, they are, on the whole, drawn to goodness, to wisdom, to truth. This is something that Gandhi recognized, and his relentless work on the behalf of the poor would have gone unnoticed had he not tapped into this essential human quality.
Poverty and Injustice Can be Solved
I also refuse to believe that injustice and poverty are intractable. I say that not as a misguided idealist (though perhaps I am), but rather as an energetic human being who has read enough to know that solutions exist, yet hasn’t lived long enough to be told that a prosperous world is impractical. Nothing is impractical that we deem important enough to pursue with our hearts and minds. Passion, when applied with wisdom, diligence and vision, is what shapes the world, not in accordance with the desire for wealth, but rather in accordance with the longing for prosperity. What is the difference? Wealth is an accumulation, a static quantitative measure of some thing. Prosperity is a flow, a constant movement towards an ideal and, more importantly, it is the freedom– intellectual, physical and fiscal–to move in that direction.
Enabling prosperity, through entrepreneurship, policy, philanthropy, art, etc., strikes me as the noblest of goals, because beyond wealth there is only prosperity, a kind of distant star illuminating the entire drama of human existence. To be a catalyst, an enabler, requires a kind of unyielding diligence, an obsession with detail that psychologists would deem unhealthy, and a firm belief–no, trust–in the rightness and goodness of one’s cause, while maintaining an openness to new ideas, new paths, and new visions.
Students Can Leverage Their Status in Society
As university students, we automatically find ourselves in a very special minority of people around the world that gain access to the the information, knowledge and connections that universities provide. We should be purveyors of trimtab solutions. However, none of us is smart or energetic enough to do it alone. Without the goodness of people, and the ability to awaken in them something that burns in us, we can never expect our ideas to go beyond the walls of our words and our eyes. But if we cultivate who we are, and nurture relationships with every atom of the world around us, we should feel no shame in “dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before” and expecting them to come to fruition quickly, equitably, and globally.