No less venerable an American than Mohammed Ali once said, “Service to others is the payment you make for your space here on Earth.” That’s one way to look at it. “I never asked to be born; I don’t owe nobody shit,” is another (suggested by the rap duo Das Racist in their song, “I Don’t Owe Nobody Shit”). Whether your views on the subject of community service are closer to one or the other aforementioned, or completely different, chances are that you will not be doing much volunteering in the near (or distant) future. After all, volunteering, like visiting a museum or voting, is one of those things that nearly everyone shares a deep belief in doing, but seldom actually does.
As anyone who’s ever done some volunteering can tell you, it is generally dull, disheartening, and thankless work (since you don’t get paid to do it, duh). Unfortunately for breast cancer researchers and homeless people, even the most heartfelt gratitude of the nicest volunteer coordinator you’ll ever meet doesn’t really compare to the material satisfaction of cashing a check and then buying some clothing or electronics. Moreover, volunteering can be incredibly depressing, since the causes that require volunteers tend to be both pretty dire and underserviced. And only some people (do-gooders, masochists) enjoy that demoralizing tang.
I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that you don’t have to change much of anything in order not to be a force for good in your community. But just in case you dabble in working for free, here are some alternative choices. When you want to see something intensely dispiriting, watch the new Holocaust movie, or read the World section of the newspaper. When you’re asked to lend a hand, inform your implorer that you’re late for your weekly nursing home tea time with Granny; that should quiet them up, and maybe even get you some encouragement, which is nice even if undeserved. And when you feel like a worthless, lazy waste of space, turn on some partisan cable news: you’ll find ample evidence of your own value as a person, in the form of commentators and politicians, whose central goals on this Earth seem to be to obtain the maximum number of fake tans and to terrify everyone else. You never even bother the neighbors.
By Aaron Brown
Aaron Brown was one of the Campus Clipper’s publishing interns, who wrote an e-book “How Not To Do Anything: An Expert Guide.” If you like Aaron’s writing, follow our blog for more chapters from his e-book. We have the most talented interns ever and we’re so proud of them! For over 20 years, the Campus Clipper has been offering awesome student discounts in NYC, from the East Side to Greenwich Village. Along with inspiration, the company offers students a special coupon booklet and the Official Student Guide, which encourage them to discover new places in the city and save money on food, clothing and services.
At the Campus Clipper, not only do we help our interns learn new skills, make money, and create wonderful e-books, we give them a platform to teach others. Check our website for more student savings and watch our YouTube video showing off some of New York City’s finest students during last year’s Welcome Week.