Monday, September 20, 2010

The Need for Service

Natural injustice exists in the world and will always exist. However, volunteering for service is one means of attempting to address this imbalance. Although the ends of a work are often the main focus behind performing an action, the process of getting to that point may be just as constructive and meaningful. In the “Mending Wall” by Robert Frost, the process of building a structure is even more significant than its actual creation. Similar to the never-ending goal of world equality, the wall the two neighbors come together to fix will never actually stay preserved for long. However, their attempt to rebuild each year despite nature’s incessant assaults demonstrates their dedication to each other. Volunteering to help those less fortunate in a community is similar to this process of rebuilding as it allows two groups to work together towards a common cause. Although the goal of a perfect world or a perfect wall may never be realized, the fact that two parties can come together and still strive towards such an idea holds a valuable meaning. The reason behind the need for service is not to achieve the impossible task of creating a flawlessly fair world but rather to take strides towards the best world possible.

My previous experiences have taught me to believe that service cannot fix everything but it is still good. In high school I was required to dedicate time to different service agencies around New York City. I assisted senior citizens with day to day activities in Bishop Boardman Nursing Home, directed fifth-graders in arts and crafts during their Cub Scout meetings, and helped Mrs. Kenny teach kindergarteners how to read and write. These experiences in accordance with my Jesuit education in high school have helped me to think about why dedication to others is important. Although giving up time for others is a great act, the real benefit to service was the connections formed with others. The feelings I had after talking to Mr. Dunleavy or helping Jonathan Vega read proved to me that even if volunteering cannot right an unfair world it can still create a mutually beneficial exchange. In this way service can be seen as not simply charity but as a means for bringing two people together with a common purpose. These connections have benefitted both those whom I worked with and I, making us better people and therefore making the world a better place.

Although the need for service can be compared to the need to fix an old stone wall, both still have their purpose. Frost’s poem tells the story of how two men were connected by the structure they were trying to build together, a structure they knew would often fall apart the moment they turned their back on it. Similarly, service does not resolve every social issue in society. There is and always will be more work to do to make a strong, sturdy world. However, even if Frost’s wall is one day forgotten and the neighbors no longer come together, the memory of what they did will last in their minds and in the foundation of the structure they spent years building.

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