Saturday, December 16, 2017
Local magazine examines volunteerism for teens, and indirectly for adults and seniors like me
While at the Westover Market in Arlington VA late yesterday, on an icy day, I picked up a copy of Arlington Magazine having, on p. 46, “Teaching Kids to Care”, by Ellen Ryan, photos by Erick Gibson. The byline says, we want our kids to be altruistic, so it starts with us. Ayn Rand does not appear to be welcome.
The article, as the name suggests, deals with getting high schoolers and probably college undergraduates into volunteerism. George Washington University, after all, has its annual day of service in September of every academic year.
Recently the Red Cross has been offering to train volunteers to go into low income homes and install smoke detectors. The article describes kids going into homes and look for energy leaks.
I’ve done sporadic volunteer assignments for a couple hours at a time, and I don’t find it very effective. Right now, it seems to take all my time to get my own projects done, sort of a continuation of the way it was when I was “working”. So I can’t practice what I preach (it’s easier, as Charles Murray has intimated, to preach what you practice).
I think it takes a minimum regular commitment to make volunteerism effective. You need to get into something physical and hands-on and that intersect with people’s real lives and real needs, whether it is food, housing construction, clothing, job opportunities, etc. You could learn some good skills. That’s a little less relevant since I sold my own estate house. But I can also see how this fits into “Survival Mom” type of thinking.
Some school systems have a community service requirement for graduation. It’s imaginable that as time goes on, more interests will pay attention to an individual’s “community engagement” in evaluations for employment or other business matters. But this sort of thing gives non-profits some personal power over their own volunteers’ lives. This fits especially into the ideology of the Left of compelling people to become horizontally as well as vertically connected and may sound counter to libertarian individualism. (Charles Murray would disagree – consider “Coming Apart”).
Let’s ponder also what the best way to get recovery work done after a natural disaster. Is it by having companies mass-build manufactured housing? Companies are good at it. Survival Mom says that local neighbors helping with cleanup was very critical around her own home area north of Houston after Harvey.
There’s even more at stake here, with the issue of national resilience. With our tech dependency, we could face a vulnerability to enemies (like EMP) that is simply unprecedented. Think about that the next time Trump (or Milo, or even I) publicly shames fat little rocket man.