I have an ethical conflict that can be termed first world problem vs. 2 year old the slide.
First world problems are, well, first world problems. Checkout #firstworldproblem. Publishing in OA can seem like a FWP if you are a minority or a junior faculty or both. Then go read this about women in Nepal or the Polaris Project about human slavery.
It makes me grateful for my parents, and yes, for being born in the US where public school is better than it is in Nepal. Grateful for the culture of my birth that made my parents support my education, and my illiterate grandparents proud of a granddaughter with a PhD even if I didn’t have kids yet.
Recently I was watching kids in a playground. I am old enough that I do not look at them from a parent perspective, but in this instance was more capable of an anthropologic point of view. I watch a two year old desperate to climb up the toddler friendly gym to slide down the slide. It is really tough for this little girl. She wants to climb, she wants to slide, and she sticks with it for what seems to me a very long time. And I stop and think: that is as hard for her as writing a grant to me. While society and from my aging perspective may proximally and immediately value the grant (if funded, needless to say) more than the toddler climbing. What do we know about the distal outcome? Maybe I will cure cancer. But maybe this experience will give the two year old a lesson in sticking-with-it-ness, and SHE will grow up to cure cancer.
We can’t judge the ultimate value of our tasks, but to me and to her, these problems are perhaps equally hard, equally challenging. Maybe climbing up a slide is a first world problem, let alone crafting a precise specific aim. But, they are the problems that confront me and the little girl, right now.
How to keep a balance? When you are two, you don’t think about it. You just don’t. Climbing up the slide is right now, and there is nothing else.
For adults, or pseudo-adults, it is maintaining a mindful balance. I try and remember that my problems are my problems, and frequently they are first world problems. Sometimes I need to be all two year old, and focus on the here and now. But sometimes I try to remind myself that there is about responsibilities to other human beings whose problems are not of the first world .