Pleased To Serve
Originally published March 26, 2009
High school and college students are often criticized for their general attitudes about life. Charges of selfishness and self-absorbed behavior are frequently among the complaints. One image that has emerged over recent generations is that of a vacuous, self-indulgent, pleasure- and wealth-oriented bunch that is unaware of and unconcerned about what’s going on in the world around them.
For some that may be true, and, well, if the shoe fits, wear it. And, of course, they’ll always have plenty of adult company.
But many among the current crop of young people are bucking that stereotype, showing a genuine interest in politics, social justice and the fate of others that is perceived to have been missing to some extent in recent generations.
Frederick News-Post reporter Marge Neal’s March 20 story on “alternative spring break” clearly showed that you can’t paint an entire generation with one brush.
It seems that while a lot of their peers are partying out in places such as Daytona Beach, Fla., the Bahamas, Mexico and ever more exotic locales, some young people are choosing to tend to the needs of others as opposed to the desires of self.
Neal’s story recounted the spring break experiences of a number of local college students, including groups from Hood College and Mount St. Mary’s University. Rather than lying on the beach all day and partying all night for a week, these young people devoted their time and energy to their fellow man. They engaged in work such as tutoring and helping rebuilding houses. Some traveled to Florida, others to North Carolina and West Virginia.
While we have no doubt that college students who went the more traditional spring-break route had fun, we wonder how memorable a life experience their week will be. It appears from their comments that those who chose the alternative had fun, but their experience was also truly meaningful.
It’s arguable which group “enjoyed” itself more, the traditional spring-break crowd or the more altruistic ones. Ironically, it may well have been those who decided to spend their vacation in service to others. Helping other people is every bit as rewarding to those doing it as it is to those they’re helping — ask anyone who volunteers.
We hope that more college students will consider this kind of alterative next year at spring break. Otherwise, they may never discover what they’re missing.
As the Indian spiritual leader Sri Sathya Sai Baba succinctly put it: “The body has to be utilized for service to others. More bliss can be got from serving others than from merely serving oneself.”
Who doesn’t need a little more bliss in their lives?
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