Science fiction and my call to service

March 25, 2015

Filed under: About My Work,Advocacy — jonathanpoisner @ 12:21 pm

I was recently asked why I felt called to service. As it was asked, the question related specifically to my career’s focus on helping nonprofit organizations, either by working for them directly or as a contractor.

After reflecting a bit, I gave an answer that surprised even me.

I think my call to service was informed by reading a lot of science fiction growing up.

The science fiction I read growing up alternatively presented really positive, uplifting, exciting views of the future, or really dark, negative, challenging views of the future.

Most importantly, the books often focused on pivot points where things either went from “good” to “bad” or “bad” to “good.” And the characters in the books often played a key role in these pivot points.

I think this taught me two lessons in particular.

First, the future won’t necessarily look like the present. Change is possible, if not inevitable.

Second, individuals can have a real impact on what change happens.

Both are key to the mindset of someone who “fights the good fight” for social change.

If you don’t believe the future can be a lot different from today, you’ll be resigned to just let things be.

And if you don’t believe individuals can have an impact, why get involved?

So if you’re a parent who wants their child to become involved in social change work over the long run, pick out some good science fiction books and give them to your child.

Next step for me: work on a blog post outlining which science fiction books most impacted me.

Was there a science fiction book that had a big impact on you?

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1 Comment »

  1. This is something we have in common other than state conservation leagues; neat!

    As a teenager, I was captivated by Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series, which I think fits your description above perfectly. Given the unstoppable downfall of a technologically advanced civilization in decline, the motivation of the series’ central figure was to reduce the length of the coming dark age from 30 millenia to just one. That sounds a lot like what motivates everyone I’ve met in my time working at non-profits.

    As the series progresses, of course, different people play key roles in keeping the plan (such as it is) moving forward; much previously hidden information comes to light, as does the secretive manipulation of events by the shady powers that be. It seems to me you’ve made a brilliant connection here.

    Comment by Jason Gohlke — May 27, 2015 @ 10:58 am

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