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Thoreau Inspires Senior To Discover Difference Between Want vs. Need

Thoreau didn’t have duct tape…

…but he was able to build a fire when it was cold!

Babson senior Ryan Cornelius has set an altruistic goal for himself for 48 hours this week.  He is spending the time close to nature – with only cardboard, a tarp, water, crackers, an Army blanket, and the clothes on his back.

Ryan is participating in an activist project as class work for Professor Elizabeth Goldberg’s advanced liberal arts course “Limit Cases: International Literature, Film, and Economic Rights.”

According to the on-line syllabus, this interdisciplinary course in literature and human rights focuses on literary and cinematic representations of economic rights problems, and the contribution of literary artists to discourses on economic rights in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Along with the basics noted above, Ryan has a copy of H.D. Thoreau’s, Walden, which he is reading for the second time and with new appreciation.

Many people have stopped to ask Ryan what he’s doing and some have offered to get him food.  But he was surprised that even more people who caught a glimpse of him in his makeshift tent, turned away when their eyes met. He understands the fear and confusion that triggers this reaction, and hopes that one of his take-aways from this experience is a new understanding of homelessness and sincere empathy.

Ultimately, Ryan hopes to have a new sense of the difference between want versus need. He tells me that he has already learned how little it takes to survive. His needs are minimal and what he ‘wants’ from now on will be carefully considered.

Ryan plans to post his journal on a blog at: Check it out!