Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Losing the forest for the trees

Oftentimes other people say things much better than I do. There has been a bit of a mini-frenzy surrounding the use of the word "fitness" in a sign my labmates took to one of the Occupy Oakland protests a couple weeks ago.

Granted, it is generally the nature of scientists to be sticklers for accuracy, but sometimes, just sometimes, it makes sense to relax and appreciate the broader context of a message instead nitpicking. My current research supervisor hit the nail on the head with his response.

Most of the students and postdocs in my group are from Europe, and many have not been here for long.  They have perhaps not quite gotten use to American political discourse and may not express themselves in a way that most Americans find convincing.  But at least they haven’t quite lost their sense of empathy and care for other people.  I figure that if I keep them here, in an American academic environment, for a couple of years more they will get cured of that problem and will be able to concentrate fully on their research careers without getting distracted by the economic and social problems they encounter in the neighborhoods around campus on their commute from and to work.  If I push them hard, the may even eventually end up getting real jobs and move up in the East Oakland hills. They will then never have to worry about the problems in West Oakland again, and can spend all their time making sure they include all components of fitness when making blog posts.

No comments: