Selflessness through Service
A few weeks ago I volunteered to work for the Sandtown Chapter of Habitat for Humanity here in Baltimore. Upon arriving, I soon learned that I would not be building a house as I had originally thought. Instead, we would be working to demolish an old warehouse that would be reconstructed into a Habitat for Humanity ReStore. At first, I was a little disappointed that I would not be directly working to provide a home for someone in need. However, I soon realized that this did not really matter. I was still helping in a great way. ReStores sell gently used, donated items, with all the proceeds assisting Habitat for Humanity in some way. Due to the large turnout of student volunteers for Habitat for Humanity and limited capacity, I was told that I could only work one day in order that everyone have an opportunity to assist. While some volunteers grew tired towards the end of the day and decided to stop working and repose, I continued to work until the very end. I knew this was my only opportunity, and I wanted to give the most that I could. I think this separation in work ethics really helped to distinguish the real motives behind people’s service. It showed who was there because they truly had a passion for service and who was there with ulterior motives.
Langston Hughes reminds us in his poem Formula “earthly pain is everywhere.” Everyone is suffering. It was important to keep in mind that the pain caused by continuing to work through the fatigue at the end of the day does not nearly compare to the pain of living in poverty and without a home. This concept as a whole is something that is really important to remember throughout life. A lot of times we get so caught up in our own troubles that we lose sight of the fact that everyone else too is suffering and often times in worse ways than our own. In Langston Hughes’ Old Walt the speaker emphasizes the journey as being just as valuable as the end result. He says, “Pleasure equally in seeking as in finding.” Although the main reason I chose to participate in this service experience was for the end result of improving someone else’s life, the process of doing so brought much enlightenment to me. It was a rewarding experience that highlighted self-power, selflessness, and empathy. I was able to see just how big of a difference I am able to make when I put my mind to it. After a long day, it was really gratifying to look at the difference I made in my task of cutting and taking down all the metal beams throughout the warehouse. This is a really powerful reflection that will continue to profit one’s self throughout the future. I was also able to picture myself in others’ positions, attempting to image what it might be like to be without a home. My actions were results of these considerations. Placing myself second, I was reminded that my life is not the only one that exists and there are many others out there that need my self. This experience helped to reinforce a sense of selflessness. In Frankenstein, Victor is forced to see the results of his actions of creating the monster. I too was able to reflect on and assess the results of my actions. All that I had done that day would help to create a store with a wonderful cause behind it. This provided a really rewarding feeling.
Although the main motive for partaking in this community service event was for the benefit of others, there was a lot that I too was able to take away from the experience. It taught lessons that led to the enrichment of human spirit and mentality.