I believe the reason that our generation is generally perceived as apathetic to the social concerns of our world is that far too often we take our space here on Earth for granted. We neglect our obligations by failing to demonstrate an unfaltering commitment to service in our communities. Too often, we become so absorbed in our personal situations that we forget there’s a whole world out there that we must nurture and attend to.
At the times when my motivation is lacking, I continue to seek out community service opportunities because, as the distinguished Shirley Chisholm (the first African American woman elected to Congress, among her many notable accomplishments) once said, “Service is the rent that you pay for room on this Earth.”
This makes sense to me. I’ve heard it said that nothing in this world is free, everything has its price. Why not life itself?
We are all members of communities. In fact, most of us are able to claim membership in several different communities. It is my belief that membership in a community entails a great deal of responsibility. As individuals, we choose to contribute significantly to our communities by accepting our responsibilities or to simply consume the efforts of contributing members by shirking off our obligations.
There is a great deal to be gained from any service experience. Not only does service teach values such as cooperation and altruism but it serves to demonstrate the very qualities of peace, unity, and compassion that our society currently thirsts for.
I encourage those of you who in the past have refrained from engaging in meaningful service in your communities to now embark on an opportunity to reach beyond yourself. Reach out to another in need of that which you can offer.
The truly great thing about community service is that the need in most communities is so vast and simultaneously diverse that it remains an option for anyone with a willingness to give. Unlike monetary philanthropy, service does not alienate those with a limited income (specifically, students).
Do you have the desire to serve but don’t know how to get started? Visit the Office for Service Learning and Volunteer Programs in the Student Center. They keep an extensive and current database of service opportunities.
A man by the name of Alex Noble once made this simple but very insightful observation. “If I have been of service, if I have glimpsed more of the nature and essence of ultimate good, if I am inspired to reach wider horizons of thought and action, if I am at peace with myself, it has been a successful day.”
Today, I will be of service to another, I will allow myself to see the good in my neighbor, and I will open my mind to the world around me. I aspire to make each of my days on this Earth a success.
I wish that all your days might also be successful ones.
Veronica Garcia is a senior sociology major.