Salon's Cary Tennis and Slate's Prudence both hand out advice. Today, they happened to answer the same letter from a guy conflicted about spending his inheritance from grandma. Let's compare and contrast their responses.
This helpless, recent college grad hates his job and wants to go travel. But isn't it a bit gauche to live off the $30,000 you didn't earn when people are jobless and starving, right here in our own country? Um, no it's not. Spend the money, fool. But alas no one was around to bonk him on the head, so he wrote in to two of our most salient thinkers, Prudence from Slate and batshit hat-wearer Cary Tennis over at Salon. And they both responded! Their answers? Typical.
It is in part an attitudinal problem: How do you orient yourself to cast a modest shadow? Can you be humble and love the people and the lands that you travel through? Can you level yourself? Can you cleanse yourself of the savior impulse, not look down on others, not presume that they need your help, not pity them nor mistrust them nor assume that when they look at you you have any idea what they are really seeing? When they look at you they may well see the man who ran them off their farms. Or they may see the man who saved them from tyranny. There is no knowing what others see when they look at us. That is the point: You must allow yourself to be regarded. You must be the object of their gaze. You must uncouple your ego from the adventure of being observed. You must be nothing, or less than nothing, go about invisibly with no mission. That is my sense of it: That even a laudable mission is a presumption, and thus an outrage on the culture that it presumes to serve.
If you lost the thread about three words in, that makes two of us.
So again, our advice: Grams is dead as door nails, so just go. See the world. Your shitty job and this shitty country and this shitty economy will be waiting for you when you get back.