Life Purpose or Life Plan?

YunusI was not able to attend the lecture of Dr. Muhammad Yunus at Quinnipiac University so I was unsure what to expect before watching the streamed video online.  I’m not going to lie, when I saw the title of the lecture “Microcredit and Social Business and Poverty Reduction,” I immediately thought I wouldn’t be able to pay attention to it especially because I wasn’t sitting down in the auditorium listening to him speak in person.

I went into watching the lecture with an open mind thinking that maybe I would learn a few things about business and economics; being that I major in sociology I thought it might be interesting to hear about things I normally do not learn in my classes. Although a lot of his lecture was about economics and business, there were certain stories, lessons, and statements he made that really stuck out for me and I felt that I could relate to and understand.

Muhammad YunusDr. Yunus began his dialogue by explaining how he felt that his path crossed with Albert Schweitzer even by going to the museum dedication and not too long before he came onto stage he was actually honored with the Albert Schweitzer award.  He felt connected to him and was surprised that he was actively working until 1965. Dr. Yunus, however, explained how they were different because Albert Schweitzer had plans; he went to medical school in order to go to Africa, whereas, Dr. Yunus said that he doesn’t plan and that he just reacts to certain situations.  I thought that was interesting because I don’t think it is very common to meet someone who just goes through life reacting to situations in order to help rather than having a plan.

Growing up all I have ever known is to plan for my future, plan my days, and plan out my work and schedule.  Even now we are currently taking this QU301 course in order to plan for our visit to South Africa in hopes of helping the communities there.  If Muhammad Yunus was in our position, I think he would just fly down and ask person by person what he could do to help even in the smallest way.  In a way, helping on a person-by-person basis will in fact change things for the whole, without being overwhelmed by helping a population or majority of people who are struggling.

map of bangladeshWhen he spoke about Bangladesh reaching independence he said that it’s kind of like euphoria because you think everything would be great now that you have a country of your own.  Dr. Yunus explained how people think that everything falls into place and becomes beautiful after independence but that is not the way history goes.  I thought that was interesting because even after Apartheid was over, there were still struggles and hurdles to jump in order to reach a state that can be considered peaceful.  But what one person considers normal and peaceful after independence can be very different from how another person views their country.

When Dr. Yunus discussed how the economy slid down very fast, he said that he told people to just be a human being like any other human being.  I thought that was inspirational because it broke down barriers of people who are different economically, which is similar to how activists during apartheid viewed people of different races.

At the end of his lecture he asked what the purpose of life is.  He asked, “Why am I here?”

Nobel Peace Prize-YunusDr. Yunus explained that colleges need to help people discover their purpose in life.  He wants a world in which people don’t know what unemployment is.  I thought it was interesting when he was saying how everyone throws a tantrum in the United States if the unemployment rate increases a percentage, meanwhile, it is a big deal if there is one percentage of people employed in Bangladesh.  That statement put things into perspective because not everyone has the ability to have a plan for a successful future. Even if those people who are unemployed do not have plans to become successful, they probably will be able to find their purpose in life better than some people who have it easy enough to become successful through a plan.

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