The third in a series of three responses to The Glass Bead Game by Hermann Hesse.
Georgetown students suffer. They suffer greatly. They suffer often. Or at least this is the impression one gets from listening to us in Lau on the weeknights. Our day consists of nothing but work and class or so it seems. It’s as if we are striving to be busier, more miserable, and more sleep deprived than the next person. Not all of us are guilty of this martyr poker (although I certainly am some times), but it is a pervasive attitude throughout campus. I don’t believe most of what we suffer qualifies as true grief, but I think Joseph’s advice to Plinio is just as applicable to us. Serenity is not childish and it’s not escapism. We should strive for serenity because it is the way to share in the perfection and beauty of the universe. I don’t completely agree with that, but I think Georgetown could use a bit more serenity (if not for beauty, then at least for sanity’s sake). Halfway through first semester one of my friends pointed out the game of martyr poker we were all playing. Once I was aware of it I noticed myself, and almost everyone else, playing it everyday. So I tried to stop. When I didn’t try to out-suffer my peers I found that I had more time and energy to actually do my work and I felt much more content. The less I complained, in fact, the better I felt. Then I could calmly attack my work without worrying about what others thought or were doing. I had found some version of serenity. I think if more Georgetown students tried something similar to Joseph’s advice they would more content and more productive. Possibly just plain happier. But more importantly, I think it would foster a more positive atmosphere on campus that would encourage people to do better work and be better people.
Thanks to Michelle for the term 'martyr poker.'