“Have you again forgotten? Know you not that a good man does nothing for appearance’ sake, but for the sake of having done right?”
This quote from Epicetus is part of a larger passage and follows with the man he is talking to responding with “Is there no reward then?” to which Epicetus then says “Reward! do you seek any greater reward for a good man than doing what is right and just? Yet at the Great Games you look for nothing else; there the victor’s crown you deem enough. Seems it to you so small a thing and worthless, to be a good man, and happy therein?”. I think the entire passage is suiting for this assignment, so I wanted to include all of it, but it wouldn’t have really worked as a singular quote. I believe that has become has become one of the major flaws in society, that is to say the lack of true altruism. This is especially true in America where we are already hyper individualistic compared to many our foreign nations. Combine this with this with our modern consumerist society based around accumulating excess for the sake of excess, and the idea that everyone else is merely another competitor, rather than ally/friend of whom we could and should help, and we have a time where helping another without a payment or reward is seen foolish (seen in how many people see giving the homeless aid, be it in money or supplies, as a waste since they will just “spend it on drugs”), or even detrimental to the helper. It is incredibly saddening.
I am writing this on a Friday morning, and it is my final assignment before I head out to my last final this afternoon. I find it extremely fitting to have my final assignment (for the semester, not just this class) is a reflection. Even though it is a reflection of a particular part of this semester it provides an opportunity to think in a bit of silence and think back over the entire semester. Not just in how my schooling went, but a more general look back at my life over the past 16 weeks. It is honestly quite astounding how eventful this time has been. I feel like the night serving at the Veteran’s Village was quite a while ago, when in reality it hasn’t even been a full month. I feel as though this is a good point to segue into the actual point of this assignment, which is a reflection, or summary of sorts of the service project I did earlier this semester.
For my service project I baked biscotti for the Italian-themed dinner at Veterans Village on November 9th. I said in my proposal that I believe one should act as if their actions were to become a universal maxim, and I believe serving the less fortunate, especially those who have served our country, is certainly something I wouldn’t mind becoming a universal maxim. Especially given the recent plan by the VA to cut a homeless veteran program, I think it is prudent now more than ever. If you were to ask me what my core value was, my answer would likely change with some degree of frequency between a few that I hold dear to myself. However, I can’t say this with certainty as it is not a question I get often. When we did the assignment earlier this semester where we had to choose 8 values and then slowly had to drop some to prioritize others I eventually ended up with Compassion as my final value. I can’t remember exactly what my other 7 where, I’m sure I had humor, knowledge, and friendship to name a few, but compassion stuck with me.
When I went home that day I thought about how I had answered to make sure I had done so honestly. In the end I think I did. Looking back at some of my bigger life choices I think that compassion has certainly played a large part in that. That is part of the reason I opted to help physically volunteer as opposed to sending boxed to Afghanistan. For one sending a package felt very impersonal, and while I’m sure the troops overseas would have appreciated the package they don’t need it to the same degree as the homeless veterans did.
How to connect the service project with my major is a bit trickier, but I think it connects in a similar manner. I am majoring in Social Science Education and I would like to teach at the high school level. I think teaching appeals to me largely because I like the personal aspect of helping people. I love the idea of being able to share my love and knowledge of the social sciences with others. Even if 99% of the children I teach don’t develop the same passion I think that if that 1% does it would be enough for me. In the same way, if 99% of the veterans appreciated the dinner, but ultimately didn’t care too much I think it could make a difference for that 1% who may be having a particularly bad day and having that home cooked meal may make it just a bit brighter.