From my trip to Haiti: why service matters
I am currently spending a week volunteering in Haiti. This is the first service trip to the developing world that I’ve personally been part of since 2009. Once I return next week I will post stories and photos here.
When I think about this trip I’m reminded of a few important things – most notably, why I bother volunteering at all.
I’d like to share my reasons. Though they are deeply personal, I believe they are also universal. I believe that you too can make your life and the lives of others better through service.
1) The world that we live in is a world plagued with unnecessary suffering.
In the United States 1 in 5 children are living in poverty. Millions of people in East Africa need significant help as they recover from a recent famine. On top of that every single continent is plagued with violent conflict and all of this – it’s just the tip of the iceberg.
If we do nothing, nothing will change.
While one person cannot save the entire world, one person can make a positive difference in the lives of other individuals and small groups. You make that difference by volunteering.
2) It’s fulfilling.
Personally, it’s easy for me to get trapped in the material world. I want an ultrabook to replace my laptop, a cooler phone, and a bigger apartment.
Despite my desire, I know that none of those things will truly satisfy me; there will always be a sleeker computer, a cooler phone, and an even larger apartment to desire once I have grown accustom to what I have.
However I have found that when I orient part of my life towards helping others, I create meaning and satisfaction that is otherwise lacking. If you get into the habit of helping others this will happen to you too.
Service is fulfilling because we are investing in a life outside of our own. We foster human connection and brush against creating a life bigger than our own physical boundaries.
We are all caught in the throes of one of the hardest economies most living people have seen. In times like this it’s easy to turn inwards and be less generous. I urge you to turn outwards and spend time helping others. Doing so will build a better world and unlock personal happiness. It is a true win-win; only good is created.
Your next steps?
Find time to give back. You don’t have to take on a global project – the unfortunate reality is that your local community almost assuredly has problems that need volunteer support. Find a cause that’s close to your heart and spend a few hours making a difference. Doing so will improve our world, and your life.