It always makes me happy to see a news story on a group of volunteers doing community service. Between all of the robberies and murders, its nice to see some people doing good; trying to make a difference. But why does that make the news?
Maybe it’s because I do community service just as often as anything else, so it seems normal to me. For other people, community service is a punishment; something you have to do when you get in trouble. Side story: I was talking to one of the other residents who lived in my building last year, Tyler, and he asked me why I was up so early (It was 5 am on a Saturday). I told him I had to be at an event by 6. Naturally, he asked what the event was, so I explained it and told him it was community service. Instead of saying something like, “oh, that’s awesome that you’re spending your Saturday to help others”, he said, “what’d you do?” He implied that I’d gotten in trouble, and this was my punishment.
Anyway, When I see community service on the evening news, the reporter usually says something along the lines of, “Look at these people! They VOLUNTEERED to clean up the trash off the side of the street!” Okay, they make it sound less surprising, but this is basically what they are saying.
The fact that volunteer workers make the news says something very sad about our society. When something is on the news, it means that is was something unexpected, or truly fascinating. When a plane crashes, it makes the news, because, while we know that sometimes, planes crash, no one expected that particular plane to go down. It was unexpected, so it’s news. Likewise, when someone creates a new product that will change the way we do something, that’s interesting, so it also makes the news.
But community service? To me, that’s neither unexpected, nor fascinating. But to most people, it is.
Talking to Tyler helped me realize something. I think I already knew it, but it was finally put in front of me. Most people don’t do community service. And even less volunteer to do it. That’s why it’s news. Because to most people, volunteer work and community service ARE unexpected. To those same people, those who do volunteer ARE fascinating. And that kind of makes me sad.
I’m not saying that everyone should volunteer all the time, but if you have the means, and the time, volunteering and doing community service helps people in need, and leaves you with a good feeling.
To those of you who say that volunteering to make yourself feel better is selfish or self-interested, who cares? There’s nothing wrong with doing something for yourself, especially if you’re helping others in the process.
In conclusion, while seeing community service on the news, makes me question humanity, it also makes me like society a little bit more. Knowing that there are other do-gooders in the world is a good thing. It only takes one person to make a difference. Maybe others will see the service on the news, and be a little more motivated to join. I guess seeing community service on the news isn’t so bad after all, maybe it’s the first step to making the world a better place.