Making a difference in your community: “Be the change you wish to see in the world”
“Better to honestly describe a negative world than to conceal it with beautiful lies,” remarked the 19th-century German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer. Those of us who live in the cushy confines of California can insulate ourselves from many social issues, but those issues will not be resolved if we ignore them.
You need not travel to Nepal or donate your money to a charitable organization to create some ripples of change: You can make a difference right here in your community.
First off, like Mahatma Ghandi reminds, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” That change begins with adjusting your behavior to match your ideals and values. For example, if you are opposed to littering, then you should pick up trash you see on the ground (at Pacific there is almost always a trash can within view, but even if you do not see one, pocket the trash to throw it away when you find one). Change is gradual, but each action you take to elicit change brings you one step closer.
College is a place where you learn and grow as a human being. Growing up means confronting the various problems humans face, such as unemployment and poverty. Though Pacific is a paradise, there are many areas of Stockton that could use our help. The Center for Community Involvement offers students the chance to make a difference in the local community.
Though volunteer experience helps students build their resumes, volunteering should really be done for the sake of helping others. By helping out your fellow human beings, you begin to understand what other people are going through. You may even be surprised by what you learn.
Schopenhauer believed there was more to life than mere satisfaction. Humans tend to focus on doing things that minimize pain and maximize pleasure, but as the 26th U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain and difficulty.”
Let’s face it, volunteering is hard work. It often requires you to wake up early, and your clothes and hands may get pretty dirty. But the difference your time and energy makes is worth it.
Even tasks you may consider insignificant, like sweeping the floor of houses being built at Habitat for Humanity, really does make a difference. Someone has to sweep the floor, and if volunteers do not do it, then the few professionals who work there must do it, which distracts them from other duties that require their expertise.
Though it is comforting to conceal the world with beautiful lies to shelter ourselves from the whirlwind of problems all around us, it will not help make the world a better place.
Seniors, as you venture into your careers, consider lending a hand whenever you can.
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