From a young age, children are taught to do good deeds for other people. This idea of goodwill is reinforced throughout students’ lives from singing at nursing homes in Girl Scouts to organizing food drives in elementary school. The stressed importance of doing good deeds for others is even carried into high school, especially as BSM is a Catholic institution, placing a high value on service. However, while all the service hours students perform may be beneficial to the community, it seems lately that the motivation behind the work seems less honorable.
In society today, it seems that there is no genuine goodwill anymore. Maybe there never was, but now people always expect a reward for their actions. The mindset is that if someone does something good for someone else, he or she will get something good in return, and I’m not simply talking about good karma.
Even here at BSM, rewards are frequently offered to encourage students to participate in fundraising and service. For example, ice cream from Ben and Jerry’s was offered to the homeroom that collected the most items for the food drive, and only a few weeks later, Taher cookies were promised to the homeroom that collected the most hygiene products.
However, this is not the only aspect of rewards for volunteering and charity that students are exposed to. Students now are trying to get every service hour possible because it “looks good on a college resume.” There is even the President’s Volunteer Service Award which requires 100 hours of service that many people are applying for. In addition, the National Honor Society, Red Knight Volunteer Corps, and many junior classes such as Christian Service and Leadership all require service hours with the punishment of a poor grade or expulsion from the club if students fail to meet the requirements.
Now, I’m not saying that required service is a bad thing. In fact, I believe that the whole idea of RKVC, students getting together to serve others, is a great way to connect with the community. The problem comes when people forget the real reason why they should do good deeds for others: simply just out of the goodness of their hearts.
The real question is whether the mindset of the volunteer actually matters. The reality is that more good may be done for the community when people feel obligated or want to gain a reward. However this is not the kind of world I want to live in, more concerned about self-promotion than about the well-being of others, even if it is a world with more volunteers.