June 10th, 2013


Give 'Em Hell

Well, it’s my job to brief you, and I’m not happy about it, but I’m going to do my job. We’re all gonna do our jobs, and we’re counting on you for everything else. This is what you spent four years preparing for. This is why you never limited yourself. And now—with a volcanic asteroid headed directly for Earth—you’re the one we need.

A Liberal Arts Major.

I don’t know what the big guy sees in you, but he’s been doing this a long time. And I guess the way you handled the “Pro” side in “Resolved: That marijuana should be legalized at a federal level” at the Debate Club Regional Quarterfinals really got to him.

Now some people might say the Debate Club’s for pansies.

I’m one of ‘em.

But then I saw the way you made it through the midfield—past my own son—in that lacrosse game against State your junior year, and I knew you had a bright future ahead of you.

Just never thought it would be all our futures.

Sure, maybe some “astronaut” could pilot an F15 fighter jet at supersonic speed, using a sonic boom to nudge the asteroid to another trajectory as it enters our troposphere. Or some “scientist” might be able to analyze the core of the volcano ready to erupt on that asteroid, write a missile control program to deliver a depth charge, and burst the magma chamber harmlessly before it breaches the mesopause. But what we really need is someone with a conversational level of Central American Spanish, two semesters of Critical Thought and Analysis, and the ability to swing a ball peen hammer at a Habitat for Humanity Spring Break Build-a-Thon.

We need you. And your liberal arts degree.

We’ve got a lot of smart men and women in this building—geoscientists, microbiologists, programmers who can write code in sixteen languages, high-ranking military officers. But it wasn’t enough to spend their lives narrowly focused on one subject, studying every aspect of their field, from high school double-enrollment to pre-graduate research, from humble assistantships at Ivy League schools to their own distinguished professorial positions at other Ivy League schools.

Tenure wasn’t enough.

We don’t need another Harvard doctoral physics candidate. We need someone who can distinguish between ‘transgender,’ ‘transsexual,’ and ‘transvestite,’ and has surveyed the relevant literature in each category. Someone who’s taken Symbolic Logic as a math class. Someone who isn’t afraid to wear a plastic trash bag and carry an ‘End Homelessness Now’ sign to the Spring Fling.

I have to admit I was impressed by your 76-page Senior Independent Thesis, in French, on Moroccan-Francophone rap music in the Paris banlieues. Nice glossary.

We’re all ready for action. Back there you’ve got a room full of computers. That telescope is focused on the coordinates where the asteroid will appear at oh-eight-hundred. This phone rings directly to the President. And these pens are color coded to match these folders.

I don’t know what you’re ready for. But you spent $46,000 preparing for it, so I hope it’s enough to save the world.

Give ‘em hell.