"Community service or self-service?"
I wrote this article about a month ago as I was reflecting on the various service projects that I have been involved in over the past year, which you all have read about in this website.
I wonder if there is truly such thing as a “purely selfless act” in community service. The pleasure or happiness we feel at the end of a service trip nullifies the “selflessness.” Does that mean that community service is ultimately self service?
Perhaps we make a distinction between feelings produced as a byproduct and feelings produced because it’s the end goal.
It’s only natural to feel pleased at the fruits of your labor; self-service is when the feel good-ness becomes the primary objective. Sustainable and continuous community service work demands unending amount of effort and time as it spans over longer durations. Long-term community development work tests perseverance and dedication. And to be honest, it isn’t always easy to pull through long-term projects, as compared to touch-and-go ones, because there is bound to be more difficulties as the journey progresses.
“Give until it hurts,” Mother Teresa once said. And indeed, service does hurt—it’s mentally draining, sometimes physically strenuous, and with Jakarta’s traffic, our butts ache so much after sitting too long in the car.
Service does hurt, but is it worth it? Yes, it’s pretty worth it to me.
What is your philosophy behind community service?