Today a colleague of mine in the department told me that he didn’t pass the quals, hence must leave after spring to find a job in the real world. I felt instantly uneasy at that point. I mean I have passed them myself, but was I spending all my time taking financial math with someone who has been eliminated as mathematically uninclined? Furthermore I had secretly cheered myself over my ability to solve some hw problems faster than this guy did, but alas, I shouldn’t even have compared with him in the first place. Of course I am not so base, and I quickly rid myself of such hostile thoughts, which I was never fond of. Instead what came next was a sense of remorse, sympathy, and true sadness. The dude looked awfully normal, saying he still wished to finish PhD despite his determined attitude towards a financial career. His candidacy also made him a friend of rare quality. I was so lost in how to comfort him at that point. To me I would probably have a real hard time swallow this kind of misfortune.
Then the real shift of mind came after I got home, when I started to think about my own summer internships. I suddenly feel I am robbing a needy man of deparately sought jobs, merely to satisfy my curiosity, or so called career forward-looking attitude. The guilt within me urged me to let go of any lucrative opportunity in order to save a lost, god-forsaken soul. In some sense I started to play God again, just like I did before; this time however I was conscuously aware of the dire consequence of such passive thinking on myself. I might eventually treat others with too much unduly mercy and considerateness that I place my own natural competitive instinct at an inferior position. Once I begin to be morally judgmental, my rationality gets defiled and I can hardly be articulate in daily intercourse any longer. Therefore the easy way out is to suppress my patronizing urge in the face of comparative victory, and get a sense of crisis coming in the near future.