Volunteering may be simple work, but it’s honest work

Will Enberg, News Editor

If it would happen that you are reading this paper on Union’s campus, no less than a couple hundred feet from the nearest Starbucks, then a certain congratulation is in order. Though it may be hard to fully appreciate, if you were born into modern Western society, you have won the lottery. In comparison to everyone else who has walked the earth before us, we are incredibly lucky to have been born in this present age, instead of back then. In regards to the effectiveness with which our time and money commands, our benefits, our accommodations, our seemingly unlimited access to food, water and entertainment, from a historical context, our modern lifestyle nearly measures to that of kings and sultans.

Of course, we could be doing things better. Our world continues to be plagued with oppression, poverty, inequality and neglect. And yet somehow, I have the gall to tell you that your existence is a winning lottery ticket. Now, I will be the first to acknowledge the specific, nonsensical privileges made available to me, that are otherwise not offered to others based upon many deliberately constructed social systems. However, it is still undeniable that all of our lives significantly improved with the advent of modern civilization.

In his philosophy on effective altruism, Peter Singer points out our luxuries, the things we do not need and yet spend our money on, as well as all of the opportunities we have that no one else in history has ever had. Singer goes deeper into this subject to illuminate the fact that we have, at our disposal, all of the resources to save and better the lives of so many deserving people on the fringes of society. One of the key components of effective altruism is the recognition that our time and effort is worth much more than it was long ago, and that we do not have to exhaust ourselves to make a big difference in the life of another

Sometimes, however, it is the consequence of our modern society that those who are left behind to survive in more archaic regions are oftentimes made to be unseen, pushed to the edges and out of sight. It is not until we enter into these spheres that we gain a deeper understanding of where we stand in relation to other communities. Reflecting upon the great work accomplished on Union’s most recent campus-wide day of service, John Calvin Toll Day, James Segee-Wright ’20 comments, “Volunteering is a unique way for students to help strengthen our communities. John Calvin Toll Day is a truly special day because it allows students to further learn about the surrounding area and discover where they can make a contribution.”

Community service opportunities such as John Calvin Toll Day provides students with an opportunity to understand how they can make a difference within their neighborhood. In a community such as Union College, these types of activities become abundant given the endeavor on the part of the administration, clubs and Greek Life to extend their reach and play a greater role in Schenectady’s communities.

This piece is not intended to attack, or accuse anyone of doing too little. It is merely a reminder to recognize all that what we possess and can do for others. We are capable of so much, so let’s put ourselves to use.