Day of obligation?

It’s that time of the year again, when the community comes together for a common bond: service. But I wonder if the right motives are there. We see the students and community members participate, but if asked what there motives were, what kind of responses would be given?

On October 17, 2009, RB will be having its annual Day of Service which provides great community service by doing things such as painting lamp posts, lending a helping hand to our elderly neighbors, or cleaning up trash around parks. The help our students, staff, parents and other members from around the area, bring every year is unmatched. I am proud to say I have been a part of it for the past two years, and I am planning on a third this year.

Now I would probably be the first to call myself out on this, but are we all doing this for the right reasons?

The feeling I get from most kids is that they feel obligated to sign up for the Day of Service. I know I felt that way my freshman year, and wondered why. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to better my community, but in a way I felt like the only reason I was going throughout Riverside with a paintbrush and a bucket full of black paint was because my parents had urged me to do so, not because I was there on my own terms. It could just be me, but I’m pretty confident when I say that other kids have this same thought process. Would half of the football players be attending the event if they weren’t required to sign up? Would the band members be there if it wasn’t for peer and parent pressure?

We see “everyone else” signing up because it is something to do on a brisk, autumn Saturday morning. However, if you were to ask kids to give you an honest answer as to why they were participating, you may be surprised as to what you might hear. Yes, the common goal is to better our community, and I give all the credit in the world to RB and what it has been able to accomplish because of the Day of Service, but I’m just not sold on the inspiration behind many of its advocates.

We all feel like the world owes us something. I think that a lot of my classmates feel obligated to participate, and don’t really appreciate the great things we’re doing. We have to know that by giving back, we will feel better about ourselves and truly “pay forward” our good fortune to be living where and how we are. I’ve had some personal things happen to me that have allowed me to feel the true joy of giving back. It is important for all of us to understand that we need to truly “give” to really “get”, and that the Day of Service should set a tone that we live by all year.