Serve others, not yourself

Laziness is not usually the first idea that comes to mind when one thinks of community service. This year, however, it is.

When students were asked first semester to participate more in the community service program by signing up for activities listed in a pamphlet created by the Community Service Council (CSC), many instead dropped pamphlets on the floor or in the trash. A PDF of the pamphlet was subsequently emailed to students and similarly disregarded.

Too lazy to read. Too lazy to sign up. Too lazy to help. Students’ careless attitudes towards community service highlight a dangerous misconception: avoiding service is beneficial and fun. After all, who cares, right?

The 82,000 homeless people in Los Angeles certainly do.

Instead of avoiding the effort involved with community service, students should embrace it as a part of becoming caring, productive members of society.

Community service is not about having fun. Nobody signs up for a community service project in anticipation of putting lots of selfies on Instagram or Snapchat. However, when students deprive themselves of the opportunity to help others, they lose a chance to grow and understand the world—and even to understand themselves. Through the effort put into community service, students can learn to recognize the common humanity in the people that they’re helping and gain an appreciation for all that they have.

Even Gabriel Peñaloza, director of Upper School community service, feels compelled to say that he believes the attitude of blaming others is not conducive to the overall success of the community service program.

“Blaming isn’t going to get us anywhere. With such drastic changes, some things are going to fall into the cracks and we need to be patient and compassionate about it,” Peñaloza said.

To combat the growing self-centered laziness in school, parents as well as administrators should encourage students to look beyond themselves and to give back to their community. More importantly, students should feel an responsibility to ethically complete community service like they would complete their schoolwork. That said, however, it is the students’ heartfelt desire to complete service that will cause them to serve. No effort on the part of an adult will ever motivate students as much as they can motivate themselves. Much like community service itself, combating the growing culture of self-indulgence at school needs to be a team effort.