An hour of service, a lifetime of servitude
We are often quicker to volunteer someone else for a task, rather than ourselves.
When the word "volunteering" is brought up, one would generally picture some form of community service, or some other kind of labor. Naturally, we cringe at the idea of work with no payoff for ourselves, but when we work to make others happy, there is always a spark of some emotional pleasure.
Let's say I neglect to do some sort of service for another, and I suffer for it. Were I to provide that service in order to avoid that loss, is it still volunteering — as I am technically also a receiver of the fruit of my labor?
Not to say that providing service in this situation is wrong, but I guess the real question is what to call it.
At Faith Christian High School, all students are required to complete a certain number of service project hours each semester, providing service to our church, school and community. A question that often runs through the students' minds is the integrity of the service, as it is simply for credit in a class.
"I assigned it because I want students to put action to their faith. I hope students will see it as more than a grade," said Enrique Herrera, FCHS Bible teacher.
There is obviously concern that the service project will become just that: a grade.
However, junior Justin Glen sees the value of the assignment when he said, "It's good to try to do something for the community. I mean, how many of us would actually go out and do something like that?"
So could that be the issue? Is it a simple yet ridiculously complex question of man's initial conscious integrity? We all would like to say that we would naturally go out of our way to make the life of a stranger better — but would we really?
I believe that Theodore Dalrymple, an English journalist and retired psychiatrist, put it best when he said, "The idea that man is naturally good ... is a very convenient idea because that means that all you have to do to be good is be yourself."
Doesn't that make you happy to think that you really don't have to do anything to be a good person?
Some would argue that all you have to do to be evil is to do nothing in the face of transgression. But let's not get too deep into an age-old theological debate. The simple fact is that whether it truly can be called volunteering or not, FCHS students do the service projects with practically no difficulty.
In fact, most students agree that the most difficult part of the service project is remembering to have the form signed by the project overseer and turn in for a grade.
So perhaps the students do see it as more than a grade. I certainly believe that they may. And when we are assigned to do a three-hour service project, who's to say that doesn't open a door to a spontaneous act of service outside of a grade?
I believe that service, whether mandatory or voluntary, can awaken an attitude of servitude. Our grades just may prompt us to "save the world."
Travis Dodds is a senior at Faith Christian High School. His column appears every six weeks in Education.