It is an unjust world. How will you live in it?
You have three options. The first is passive acquiescence; this is what a normal, mentally healthy person does. Most of us conform to the world as we find it. Go along to get along. Join the mainstream. Accept the status quo. Kiss up, kick down. This is normal, because conformism is the virtue most rewarded by society. The world will leave you alone at worst, and applaud you at best. But you’ll leave it as unjust as you found it.
The second option is violent resistance; by “violent,” I don’t mean just physical acts, but verbal and mental ones. You resist the world’s unfairness, but you are angry and bitter. You defend the weak by hurting the strong, but you create enemies all around. You may do some good, but you’ll die by the sword, and after you, your enemies’ children will fight your children.
The third approach is nonviolent resistance; by “nonviolent,” I mean that you fight your enemies, but you don’t hate them. You’re not angry, you’re a “happy warrior;” you seek not to defeat, but to persuade; and if you can’t persuade, to simply stop evil without harming the evildoer. You may not persuade your enemies, but their children and grandchildren will come around to your view. You’ll leave the world a better place.
If you seek to take the hard road, I advise you to be careful, and learn the methods of nonviolent resistance. Study Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi, not because their lives were happy (they weren’t), but because they left a legacy of progress which millennia of history failed to provide. It’s the same in the profession as in larger society: We’ve been fighting each other for centuries, without meaningful progress, because we’ve either been violent in mind and word, or we’ve been passively acquiescent. The third road is the hardest for the person, but the best for the world.
As for you, look into your soul. Don’t be shy. Be honest. Be brutal.
I have thought that Nietzsche got it right: One way of understanding these matters is think of our task in life as becoming who we are. You are someone; it may take your life for that someone to unfold. You do well to become who you are, rather than to deny yourself, or distort yourself, or never to get to know yourself. You don’t really know who you are right now, but you have an inkling. And over time, that inkling can grow until you are more and more confident in yourself.
Freud had another insight into it. He said that in decisions of great importance—such as choosing a career, or whom to marry—he found that it was best to go with one’s inner instinct, with a sense of what’s right that might be difficult to explain or defend. This intuitive approach is more accurate, he thought, than purely rational calculations, because it puts you in touch with your deepest needs. So as you look into your soul, pay closest attention to your intuitive feelings, even if you can’t explain them.
It isn’t a fault to want to live a quiet life. You don’t need to be a hero. If you want to make a living, make a living in that field which will provide you the least daily hassle. Then follow your dreams outside of your profession. Make a living however you find most profitable, but find the passion of life elsewhere. Look into what gives you meaning, what you think will give your life its deepest meaning. Put your efforts there.
If you feel a deeper calling within the profession, follow it, but prepare yourself for the resistance of the world. Find your solace inside yourself, not outside. And know then that you are like the saints of old, but in a different era, doing God’s work in a world where gods no longer are recognized.