I sat beside a woman. She just told me about her personal past, her life until now and didn’t fail to leave out the pain life had caused her. I asked if she still could find pleasure in life. I asked whether she considered life in itself beautiful and if she had dreams for the future. She told me she wanted to become part of the animal rescue team, to take care of all those bunnies, cats and dogs in need.
By talking to her I realized one thing. It seems quite easy actually to learn about life through scholars’ attribution to academic research. Through theories and historical representations we learn how the world works, but fail to grasp what that world is.
There’s a great belief in academic research and its presumed outstanding possibilities to create a society wherein people are healthier, richer and happier. This positivistic view has already been challenged and discussed by examples of the negative impact science has had on life in general. But it’s almost needless to say that honest research done by the standards of academia discovers the world and provides tools to shape society.
Whereas the belief in academia increases, the ties with the non-academia diminishes. The inner circle of researchers is becoming a closed circle where contact with the working class, the normal folks, is restrained. In my opinion there’s too often a gap between researchers and the rest of the social ladder. Is that a real problem? At first, I’d say no. Scholars need their own environment to be motivated, inspired and critiqued. But then, to be able to research and to add value to it, yes, you should bridge the gap. Talking to people will tell you what they aim for in life, it will uncover their values and goals, their problems and anxieties, their hopes and fears.
This woman I spoke to had been through something extraordinary. Despite that she wanted to live up to an ideal she had. She knew about the tough side of life, she knew that not everything contains beauty, but she was going to generate it if she had to. Science should be like that. Get your feet in the mud of everyday life, listen to the words of a scarred woman, notice the antithesis of life and start doing what you have to do to add beauty to this world.