Service Isn’t Simple

Service Isn’t Simple

September 9, 2019 Reflections from Changemakers 44

At the first Bonner meeting, we read the article What We Don’t Talk About When We Don’t Talk About Service by Adam Davis and discussed it’s implications on the work Bonners do.

What stuck out to you from this article?

In addition to the question above, please also respond to one of the following questions.

  • Why, according to Davis, do people serve? Do you agree with these explanations? What else might motivate service?
  • For who is service good, and in what ways?
  • Why might service be a difficult subject to discuss?
  • Where do you see inequality in the world around you? Which instances of inequality are troubling? Which instances seem acceptable or just, if any?
  • Does service address inequality
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44 Responses

  1. Abby Hoekman says:

    According to Davis, people serve for a variety of reasons, these reasons are as follows: (1) we are God’s children; (2) we share the earth; (3) I find myself in you; (4) I win praise by serving you; (5) I suck. The explanations I resonate most closely with are the first, second, and third explanations. Service may also be motivated by a desire to give back, especially if the server has at some point been the individual who has been served. What stuck out most to me in this article was the concept of whether or not service addresses or perpetuates inequality. I found this section particularly memorable as I had always assumed service to be good for those receiving the service, when in reality transactional service can be detrimental to those being served because the actual systematic issues they face are not being addressed to provide long-term solutions. The mere fact that inequality has always existed, even in the face of service, proves that service alone does not address inequality. Furthermore, the issue of toxic service stuck out to me as a result of this article because it discusses how much damage a person doing service with poor intentions can cause for those being served and how those individuals perpetuate the issue of inequality in service by creating a greater power and social status imbalance.

  2. Alexis D'Aloia says:

    What stuck out most to me from this article was the ideas surrounding inequality and service. It’s an odd dynamic because service is generally supposed to be helping with inequalities that individuals face, yet the article addresses the idea that service actually broadens that inequality gap. Service can create this uncomfortable power dynamic between the server and the person being served because it highlights the fact that one person in this situation isn’t in need of service, whereas the other’s needs are put on display. So yes, I think service addresses inequality but it does not solve the issue. If anything, service sheds more light on inequality. It seems like inequality is necessary for service to exist, even though we should always be of service to others and care for each other regardless.

  3. Samantha Gisleson says:

    – What stuck out to you from this article?

    The last section of this article, which was titled “Service Is Not Simple,” really stuck out to me. This stood out to me because I think that most people think service IS simple. Many people volunteer for a few hours at a time and then go about their normal lives without giving much more thought to the service that they just completed. To me, it seems that many people see service as something one does, feels good about briefly, and then moves on from. However, the author of this article points out that “service is not simple,” and assuming that it is would be a mistake. This is why I find the service we do as Bonners to be so unique. Many groups that serve complete direct service, and they do not assess whether or not the service they are doing is really needed in the community that they are serving. As Bonners, the majority of the service that we do is indirect and aimed at being sustainable, which means that we spend time assessing the communities we are working in to assure that the work we are doing is both needed and helpful. Moreover, unlike the majority of people, we do talk about our service. As Bonners, we spend a great deal of time reflecting on the service we do both within and beyond the Capital Region. Bonners do not approach service assuming that it will be simple. Bonners see service as a complex and integral part of our lives. Service is part of what makes us who we are and to us, it is certainly not simple.

    – Does service address inequality?

    When thinking about this question, one quotation from the article stood out to me. It reads, “Those who serve set out to help, yes, but they also set out to bridge a gap, to remedy the consequences of inequality.” I believe that this shows that service in fact does address inequality. I think that the fact that service happens addresses the fact that inequality exists. Service does not solve or get rid of inequality, but rather I see service as something that acknowledges the existence of inequality and then works to reduce that inequality in some way. For example, if you are working at a soup kitchen, you are acknowledging that the people you are serving need your help and by helping them you are working to help them move into a better situation. Inequality comes in many forms, and by serving we work to address and minimize the issues caused by inequality.

  4. Cody Romani says:

    What stood out to you in the article?

    What stood out to me the most in the article were the ideas obtaining to service and inequality in the world. The article talked about why we serve and if service is actually worth it if inequality still exists. The article made me think about the reasons why I serve. What also stood out to me was the fact that it is important to understand the feelings of both the server and the person being served. Understanding the people who you are serving helps you to formulate positive relationships with the people.

    Does service address inequality?

    I believe that service does address inequality. If anything service helps us to see the inequalities that exist in the world and leads us to ideas of how top address these situations. Service can go a long way in helping to end inequality.

  5. Marlie Frisco says:

    This article has many implications and insights into the people we serve with and the inherent “goodness” of it. In general, I think the most poignant point of this entire article, “What We Don’t Talk About When We Don’t Talk About Service”, was the statement, “Serving you, I confirm my relative superiority. Being served, you confirm your inferiority”. When you are the one serving others, you convey a level of power over the individual being served.

    In my opinion, service addresses inequality, but does not solve it. Prior to reading this article freshman year, I was under the assumption that all service is good (SIG). However, service oftentimes is a one-time occasion. For example, it is important to provide food for people who are starving, but that does not address the broader spectrum of why they don’t have enough money or access to food. This does not take away from the validity of service because it is critical to provide food for those in need. However, it is extremely important to determine the causes of why the person is starving and attempt to provide the individual(s) with a sustainable solution.

  6. Dana Wakeman says:

    Service is good when it is serving with people rather than serving for people. This is because when you are serving with people, it allows the people serving as well as the people being served to be on the same level, so no one is better than the other. In contrast, when you are serving for people, it can contribute to the idea that someone is better than the other and someone is less than the other, which can lead to toxic charity. Therefore, it is important that we serve with the community in order for everyone to be on equal footing.

    It is also important that we ask the community what they need rather than strictly imposing what we think they need. In addition, when serving with a community, it is helpful to remember the assets of the community (what the community has) rather than what the community lacks (what the community does not have) because there is no ideal community. If we do all of this, then service can be good and will hopefully start to address inequality.

  7. Andraya Perez says:

    Being that this is my fourth time reading is article, every year I find that I tune into something different. This year while I was reading the article I really noticed the part where he discusses that people don’t talk about service. I think this is a very good point he makes and it is very true it was kind of like politics and religion, people are uncomfortable talking about service. Luckily in Bonner we are comfortable with the uncomfortable and try to talk about service to break the stigma. Also this year, after taking a philosophy course last semester, I started to question what it means to be good as I was reading which is something I hadn’t done before. He talks about how the good is for the server, the people being served, and the community at large. As I was reading about this I was thinking about what I consider to be good, what is my own definition of good. This is actually a hard task what is my good, is not the good that a server or servee, or the community. Adam Davis pushes me to think about what is good and how I view service.

  8. Kylie Gilbride says:

    I feel that service might be a difficult subject to address because I don’t believe that the term itself is fully understood or given the complete respect it deserves. During our meeting, this was a topic that my group and I seemed to focus on. Of course as Bonners, service is a word that is understood and respected by us because it is part of our way of life. I feel that whenever I share that I am a Bonner and that I do service, that the word “service” is easily glossed over or the person/people I’m talking to already believe they know what it is. It is also important that the term “service” is completely understood and respected by as many people as possible so the communities we serve are also understood and respected; this issue goes way beyond the actual act of service that we carry out on a daily basis. We, as Bonners on Siena’s campus and as change-makers in the Albany/Troy region, and beyond, have the power to explain through words and actions what the definition of service truly is. It is extremely important for us to educate others on what service is, and what it isn’t; I believe that it can be something that we can all try to implement when the opportunity presents itself.

  9. Michael Averill says:

    As Bonners, we have committed to doing 1,800 hours of community throughout our time at Siena. Our dedication to service is often praised and we are referred to as leaders on campus. Yet, sometimes we struggle to define who we serve, how we serve, and why we serve. Davis provides multiple reasons for the reasons we serve, which allowed me to reflect on how my values affect my dedication to service. By doing service, I serve my community, I strengthen my relationship to the world around me, I constantly learn new things, and I serve God. Service, as Davis points out throughout his article, can have benefits for many people involved. I think that’s the best part about it. Even if the steps are small and the service doesn’t create massive change, there are always positives to serving others.
    Addressing the question of whether or not service addresses inequality, my answer is yes. This does not mean however, that service creates equality. Every act of service is in some way or another, aimed at helping others through a service. Whether that means picking up trash for a cleaner neighborhood, playing with students afterschool, or writing ethnographies on the culture of West Virginia, the goal is to address inequality. These acts do not always yield results, but it the effort put forth and the dedication to community building that makes me believe that service does address inequality.

  10. Jamie del Rosario says:

    According to the article, people serve because (1) we are God’s children; (2) we share the earth; (3) I find myself in you; (4) I win praise by serving you; (5) I suck. While these reasons do categorize a large number of volunteers, I have never found them to be completely all-encompassing. I believe that people can choose to serve for other reasons. Because they care about people, because it is right, because it is a vocation, and likely many more. I also think that people can fall under multiple categories, even so far as depending on the service they are doing at a given moment. I can freely admit that I have done service for all five of the reasons the author outlined at some point or another in my life, though the motivation behind the vast majority of my service remains the same. That is simply that I believe people are the most important aspect of the lives we are given, and as such we each deserve a fighting chance not only to survive, but to enjoy equally the world around us.

  11. Aedan Raleigh says:

    Every year that I read this article, it brings me back to the first time that I read it and reminds me of how much I have grown since then. One thing that I find myself particularly passionate about reading it this year, is the relationship between inequality and service. Especially today inequality is increasing to extremes and it plays a role in every aspect of our daily lives, even if it is not done in a malicious way. I think this article is important because it forces you to check your mindset in your service and understand where service can be destructive.

  12. Chandler Edbauer says:

    In the Article I found it interesting that the author only listed five reasons for participating in service. I could not relate to any of the reasons completely. I have been serving for as long as I can remember because of my mom. I serve because it has always been a positive experience. It has been a fun time with friends and I do it as part of my life now, because I like to make others happiness. I believe that there is inequality everywhere and people need to be valued.
    Service is a difficult subject to discuss because people don’t want to seem like they do it as “work” to make themselves look good. They might not talk about it because it seems like bragging or because they don’t want to make the people getting the service seem like less of a person.

  13. Isabella Barone says:

    What really stuck out to me from Davis’s article was how, in not talking about service and its inherent attempt to bridge the inequality gap, we only widen the gap of inequality. Service is meant to be placing ourselves with or below someone else, if we go by the strict definition of “serve”. But we are privileged because we are able to serve, and it is rare that anyone acknowledges that there is an inherent privilege in serving. While I believe that service is meant to do good and largely does, in not acknowledging its “darker side” we arguably cheapen the good it does. Service creates an inherent power imbalance and would expose inequality if only we let it. Service can be difficult to discuss because to discuss service would be to acknowledge that our attempts to bridge the gap often fall short. Perhaps service should be not just about doing good but about exposing inequality; where there is a need for service, there is inequality.

  14. Taylor Russin says:

    Service is good for many people in many ways. By serving people in need, you make a positive impact on their life. You never know what someone is going through and the smallest act of kindness can change their day. You also can help yourself by helping others. By knowing you positively impacted someone’s life, you feel like the hard work you put into it pays off. I personally appreciate service because I know how much it helps people. Four years ago my family’s house set on fire and one month later my father lost his job. The people in our community worked together to try to help us get back on our feet and get our lives back on track. Although it was a long time full of many challenges, we were able to survive thanks to the service of other people.

  15. Tristan Hunzinger says:

    Davis claims that there are five main reasons why people serve: we are all children of God, we all live on the same planet, one sees them-self in another, one wins praise by serving, and one feels guilty. I agree that these motivations exist and are typically the most common, especially the “I win praise by serving you” reason. Service may be a difficult topic to discuss because people might not want to acknowledge the fact that not all service is good and that there are flaws in some service. If done properly and for the right intentions, service is meant to be good for the served and the server. Unfortunately, as Davis points out, this is not always the case. I see inequality everywhere in the world, but primarily in education. Specifically, the resources that are provided to high school students varies from school to school; community to community. Socioeconomic status undoubtedly plays a major role in determining what resources will be available to you throughout your educational journey and this is something I have witnessed back home as well as here in Albany.

  16. Nancy Rasmussen says:

    There are many reasons that people serve according to Davis. One reason people serve is to make themselves feel better. Another reason people serve is to better the community around them. After reading Davis’ article a second time, I came to agree with his explanations. I think a big motivation to serve nowadays is to build one’s resume. Although this reason might not be “good,” both parties are benefitting from this service.

    Service is good for both parties involved. It is good for the person receiving service because they are in need and their needs are being met. It is also good for the person serving because it makes them feel like they are doing something beneficial in the world.

    Service might be a difficult subject to discuss because everyone serves for a different reason. In fear of clashing with other’s reasons for serving, we tend to stay away from this topic.

    I see inequality in America’s education system. It is very troubling to see schools 2 miles apart with drastically different buildings and different supplies provided to them by the state.

    Service definitely addresses inequality. When we serve, we tend to serve those less fortunate than us.

  17. LILIANA SANCHEZ ADAMES says:

    This article talks about the many reasons why people serve and how each and every reason is a selfish one. One of the reasons Davis mentions is that people serve because they feel good about the fact of giving and doing something for others. I personally serve because of this but I don’t think it is a selfish reason in any way. As I serve, I am also spending my time in something without thinking about wasting or investing my time. I am not thinking about the fact that I could be doing homework or resting, I go to the Boys and Girls Club and start playing with the kids or helping them with their homework and I not thinking anything of it, definitely not thinking about how this fills me or makes me feel good. I’m just helping them out just because, there is no reason behind it. I think service is good for everyone, the good it brings is equal. In math, the equal variables on each side of the equation cancel each other out. This applies to service as well… say I serve because it makes me feel good and happy=the person receiving the service is happy with my service. Both variables of the equation have the word happy in them so they cancel each other out ; therefore, service is not selfish because everyone wins. This entails that service when done for the right reasons, is at an equilibrium. Service might be a difficult subject to discuss because of this idea of it being selfish, I mean yes when not done for the right reasons it could be selfish but when it follows the equation above, there is nothing selfish about selfishness in service. There’s inequality everywhere, more specifically in urban regions. For example, resources in afterschool programs throughout Albany vs. CYC (afterschool program for the north colonie school district.) Although, service does address that there is inequality it does not entirely solve the problem unfortunately. This is why service itself is a sustainable thing, it attempts to solve areas of inequality throughout but it fails to solve it entirely.

  18. Tori Mangelli says:

    According to Davis we serve for five reasons. Those reasons are that we are God’s children, we share the earth, I find myself in you, I win praise by serving you, and I suck. I do agree with these explanations of why people serve since they vary so much and cover a wide range of reasons people chose to serve. However, Davis doesn’t include the fact that some people are genuinely good and want to give back to the community that gave them so much.
    The thing that stuck out to me the most was when Davis said one reason why people serve is because “I suck.” This made me wonder how many people serve purely to make themselves feel better inside and if I have ever done that. I came to the conclusion that that was never a motivation for me, but I have noticed that I do feel better about myself after service. However, I don’t think this feeling is a bad thing as long as you are doing your best to benefit and improve your site, it’s not selfish to feel good about what you are doing. Also although people shouldn’t be serving just to better themselves, is it really a bad thing? If the service is getting done efficiently I don’t think the motivation really matters in the big picture.

  19. Mara Golden says:

    What stuck out to me the most about this article was the reasons people serve. Those being; we are God’s children, we share this earth, I find myself in you, I win praise by serving you, and I suck. Every person has their own reason for serving but the reason that stuck out to me the most was “I suck”. It is hard, for me, to comprehend why people only do service for themselves. Sure it may feel good to help others but that is not the only reason to serve. By serving you could be helping someone who has not had a bed to sleep in for days, or a hot meal. The smallest act of kindness could change a person’s life for the better. I cannot begin to imagine, and nor do I want to, how many people serve just to make themselves feel good.

    Service can be good for everyone involved, those receiving the service and those giving it. For the people who are receiving service may be getting a hot meal or a warm, dry place to stay. Things may be offered to them that could help change their lives for the better. For those who are serving they may get a new learning experience. They may learn not to take what they have for granted, or how to make themselves more available to people.

  20. – What stuck out to you from this article? .
    What stuck out to me were the explanations as to why we don’t talk about service. I do service, and I feel like this applies to most individuals, because I want to lessen the gap between classes and provide equity. To clarify, we do service because we want to ensure all individuals have food, water, shelter, a safe place to live, etc., however by doing service we are acknowledging the fact that there s a lack of equity and a lack of equality. People serve for all different reasons and those reasons coincide with their beliefs. One might serve others because they love God or they serve because God gave them something that others don’t have. Therefore, they give a little bit of themselves or their time to serve those that don’t have as many earthly goods. Others might serve because they simply love others or want to help others -“your goods are mine goods”. Some serve because they are not in a position where they need assistance and never want to experience that situation. Others because they enjoy the praise and attention they receive due to service and people might serve because they believe that they are all sinners. By serving, they will be less of a sinner or a bit better of a person; they will “suck less”.

  21. Abeer Jafri says:

    Davis writes that we provide service for five reasons: Because we are God’s children, because we share the earth, because “I find myself in you”, because “I win praise in serving you”, and because “I suck”. I agree with these explanations in that there is always a spectrum of motivations people may have for serving, hence the phrase “service isn’t simple”. Service is good for both the people serving, and those being served. Any help people can get will be appreciated, but complexities come in when intentions of serves are examined more carefully. What stuck out to me about this piece, was that we rarely take a step back to look at the “why” factor while doing certain acts. The article helped me realize that we must be more self-reflective and address motives. Although most people who serve have positive intentions, there is a polarization that is created when setting up a server-receiver interaction, which brings us to the topic of inequality. “Service” and “Good” always seem to be interrelated, but this polarization reminds us that service can put certain people on a pedestal with others below them: a degrading act which is not “good”. There is inequality in almost every instance in this world. Equality will probably never be reached, but it is troubling when the dynamic of inequality is one of degradation. If there are differences between people, but they view each other with equal respect, inequality – although still existent – can be put aside. However, degrading others puts inequality on a showcase, which is troubling. Service does address inequality, but does not solve it.

  22. Nicole Pazarecki says:

    The first Bonner meeting we always read the article ” What We Don’t Talk About When We Don’t Talk About Service”. Every time I read this article, I always find something different from the previous year. It important for us to read this article every year because each year has different amounts of experiences of service. The article talks about how there are the right reasons and the wrong reasons for service. The reason why I do service is because I want to help improve the community and its population. Also, I was raised with opportunities and my parents always taught me to never take for granted for all my blessings, give back to those in need and to be kind to others.

  23. Samantha Lunt says:

    According to Davis there are five reasons why we serve. These five reasons are 1. We are Gods children 2. We share the earth 3. I find myself in you 4. I win praise by serving you 5. I suck. I agree and disagree with these statements Davis has made. I agree with these five reasons of why we serve because there is always a motive for what a person does and any of these reasons could be a motive for a person. I also disagree with this because I think there a more reasons to why a person serves and also some of these reasons don’t always fit why a person serves. People almost always have good intentions when they serve, however sometimes people lose site of those good intentions and become to self involved and forget the true purpose of what they are doing. What stuck out to me in this article is how “service is not simple”, it is not simple because of the inequalities in this world that make service not simple, but that is a reason why we serve. It is about acknowledging the difficulties of service where we find the reasons why we serve.

  24. Nia Colon says:

    One of the reasons that stood out to me was the fact that people serve because it will make them feel better. In certain ways, I can agree with this because I know certain people participate in service because they want to feel good about themselves or to build a better resume for themselves. I think service can help those who are in need and for those who are serving. Service might be a difficult subject to discuss because the individual may only do it because they want to feel better about themselves. I see inequality in schools since my mother works in a primary school she discusses the injustice in her school vs others around her. I think service can address inequality, it brings help to ares that need it most.

  25. Stephanie Da Fonseca says:

    What struck me in this article was how there’s so many different reasons  as to why we all serve. I had never thought how some people can serve for the wrong reasons and how that affects the people we are working with. When he talked about how some people serve because they feel guilty or bad about themselves and it reflects in the service it really struck me because when I serve, its to benefit whatever need they have and it doesn’t matter what I feel or want since it’s benefitting that person and their needs, that’s why we are there, to make a difference, even if it’s indirectly.
    Does service address inequality?
    I believe service makes us aware of what is going on and the situation, but I do not believe service addresses inequality. Service is just a way to help people but service is never going to be the solution to the issue. I believe we can try to aid in any way possible but it’s never going to fully address the situation.

  26. Marykate Del Gais says:

    In Adam Davis’ article “What We Don’t Talk About When We Don’t Talk About Service,” he offers many reasons as to why people serve. Those reasons were: (1) we are God’s children (2) we share the earth (3) I find myself in you (4) I would praise by serving you (5) I suck. What stuck out to me most in this article was the last section titled “Service Is Not Simple.” He suggest here that by leading yourself to believe that service is simple you turn service into something bad. I could agree with this, as I’ve seen people around me volunteer for a few hours every month with no real passion for the service itself. This idea of turning service bad resonates with the last two reasons Davis states. somehow those who refer to service as simple see it as a way to gain praise or feel better about themselves, when in reality that isn’t truly what service is about. By understanding this, it showed me a new perspective on the service we do as Bonners. It is our mission to ensure that our service, both indirect and direct, is not only needed by the community, but benefiting it as well. The question whether service addresses inequality is rather difficult to respond to, as it can go both ways. Initially, I believe that service does address inequality in the sense that service helps individuals with the inequalities they face in their life. However, the article suggests that some acts of service “and try and even extend a very gab they mean to bridge.” In simpler terms, it brings up the idea that by the act of service we are highlighting the fact that the person receiving service is in need of help. It is, in one way or another, separating us more as individuals rather than trying to create equality within the act of service. That being said, I believe that service does address inequality to an extent, as it just acknowledges that it is present. The issue of inequality itself is not settled.

  27. Maura Lynch says:

    What stuck out to me from this article is that I had never thought about the reasons that people serve and, honestly, I had yet to really consider my reasoning. I always thought it was just something that was expected and I had not thought about all of the different reasonings that some people keep to themselves. At first it was hard for me to believe that some people serve for the wrong reasons. As I contemplated, however, I realized that many people have a selfish aspect to their service. Serving others can make us feel like we are better people even if the difference was not made for the person being served.

    In a sense, service is good for the giver and the receiver. At the surface, one might think that the benefits are being reaped by the receiver only, however the giver will typically be getting something out of it or else they would not be there. Even if the giver is only receiving peace of mind/ catering to their sense of morality, the giver does receive what they need. The act of service can also humble the giver. This means that they can be thrust into realizing how much they have to be grateful for. Service is a win-win action and places both people in a better position than they were before.

  28. Julia says:

    After reading this article I realized that determining whether service is good or bad is a pretty difficult task. People serve for many different reasons and these reasonings can help us determine if service is in fact good. According to Davis people serve for several main reasons (“I wouldn’t want to be in your position”, “We’re all in this together”, “I’m a terrible person so I should do something nice”, “God wants me to do this”, and “I look good doing this”). I agree that people serve for these reasons. However, everyone’s relationship with service is unique and I think it’s unfair to boil the reasonings down to five main reasons. For instance, my family motivates me to serve- I see them helping others and I feel inspired. And the community I work with pushes me to continue service.

    Service is good for the person doing the service and the person receiving it, as long as both parties are aware that in service we are not trying to change people, we are only trying to change the inequality that some people face. With this understanding hopefully both parties can develop a sense of mutual respect. Service is difficult to discuss because inequality is difficult to discuss and inequality is the root of most service. Inequality is all around me. I see it in education systems, healthy food resources, etc. Inequality is most troubling when people refuse to recognize it. I do believe that service can recognize inequality. However, that really depends on education. If people are not educated on who they’re serving and why, they can miss the whole purpose of volunteering which of course is battling inequality.
    BLOVEEE

  29. Erin Spence says:

    The idea that stuck out to me the most from this article was that even though most service creates a positive external outcome, there can be negative internal effects for both the server and the person being served. For the person who is being served, it can be degrading and embarrassing to admit that they are in need of help. For the server, it can be uncomfortable because they do not want to make the person they are serving feel bad about themselves for needing their help. In the end though, the person being served has their need met. This idea had never crossed my mind until I read this article, but I think the author makes a valid point. This adds to the idea that the author makes about why people do not talk about service. I have had my own personal experience with this, especially when it comes to Bonner. People do not truly understand what service is, and when you try to explain it to them, they either become very uninterested, or you begin to feel uncomfortable because of the stereotypes that surround service. As Bonners, we are very familiar with the concept of service and what it means to us, but it can be very challenging to talk to others about it for these reasons.

  30. Sydney Maughan says:

    What stuck out to me most was Davis’s idea that, “… we serve not because we share with others but because we identify with others. I know what it’s like to be in your shoes. In fact, thanks to my imagination, I am in your shoes. I choose to serve you because I see you suffering, I can’t help but imagine myself suffering, and I don’t want to suffer. By alleviating your suffering, I take care of myself… I ladle food onto your plate because others who see me do so will think better of me. And, oh yeah, you won’t be quite so hungry.” I disagree with Davis about this in every single way. Just reading this irritates me because any service done no matter why it is done is good and just because serving helps the person doing it doesn’t mean it’s bad. If someone didn’t get self fulfillment when they served their community, I would think something is wrong with them because no matter how humble or selfless someone is they can still feel good about themselves for doing something good for another/others. According to Davis, people serve because “Why serve? Here are five reductive answers: (1) we are God’s children; (2) we share the earth; (3) I find myself in you; (4) I win praise by serving you; (5) I suck.” I disagree with this statement because there are hundreds of reasons to serve and everyone does the things they do for different reasons. Davis generalizes all people who serve into categories but people are honestly too complex to generalize their thoughts and reasoning to serve and volunteer into 5 simple categories. Honestly, ANYTHING could motivate service, it could be something as simple as serving because your friend always does and you want to keep them company. Service is good for the community, the person receiving it, and the person giving it. The person receiving it is usually being provided with things they don’t already possess and are in need of. As for the person providing the service, it can provide a feeling of accomplishment for being able to help something/someone. The community benefits because in the end, someone/thing is receiving something it needs. Service can be a difficult subject to discuss for several reasons, but it’s also an easy subject to talk about with. It all depends on who you’re talking to and what kind of service you’re discussing. If you approach the conversation without any bias and with an open mind, it can be an extremely easy topic to discuss. And as long as you have passion for the service you discuss to someone, it’s nearly impossible to find it boring because of how you talk about the things you care about. I see inequality EVERYWHERE in the world around me. In almost any situation there will always be inequality. And more than half of the times I see inequality, it is troubling. Only on few occasions is the inequality I’ve seen been acceptable.

  31. Pierre Dalce says:

    According to Davis people serve for a multitude of reasons. Primarily because we are all god children and service to others is one of the primary responsibilities as being one of God’s children. Throughout the article Davis brings up essential points that places service in a different light than what it is usually accustomed to. Davis states that although service to others is one of the responsibilities of God’s children it can also increase the inequality gap among people. At first this notion seemed nonsensical however there is some truth to what Davis is claiming. Most but not all the time the groups of people who need help and who service is directed towards are poor minority groups and Davis claims that it creates an angst between those who are serving and those who are served. This can be proven to be true in the sense that poor and impoverished might feel that they are being looked down upon and that the people doing the service are doing it because they feel bad for those who need the help. And to that notion i will say that yes in some cases those who are being served may feel this way but service does more then address inequality it in some sense helps fix it. Primarily because you are helping those less fortunate them yourselves and secondly because if someone does feel this angst and resentment inside of them logically they will try their hardest revert things and make sure than they are placed in a situation where they need help from others. However, in summation service according to davis is our God giving duty and to that I have no objection however service is not all marshmallows and cookies there are some negatives implicated with service in many forms one primarily being the way those being served fell to those servicing them.

  32. Kayla Sweet says:

    Hey Everyone! This semester I only attend half of each bonner meeting so I wasn’t present for the article. I’ll answer the questions so they’re still addressed! Service, when done right is good for the person serving and the people being served. It’s good to learn how to have an exchange with another person without allowing a power difference to exist.

    Service can be a difficult topic to discuss because there is a stigma around one time vs sustainable service. Bonners of course practice sustainable service but people think otherwise sometimes because of the stigma.

    I see inequality is most places around me. At both of my internships, in my classes, in Albany and in my personal life. Access to resources and differences in the bodies we were born into lead to these inequalities and privilege issues.

    SUSTAINABLE service addresses inequality. If done right the process is cyclical and people who are served will be at a place where they too can give to others.

  33. Kiara says:

    In a lot of ways service highlights inequality. Service has the ability to make a distinction between the server and the served that is not always positive. An obvious need for a service highlights that there is an area that needs further assistance. The inequality in that situation can be addressed by actions being taken to address the system that needs to be improved to better serve a population. The conversation needs to be steered away from inequality and towards inequity. I am okay with people not receiving the same things to meet their needs. All individual needs are different and some people need more than others to start on a level playing field. An obsession with equality and expecting everyone to perform the same given the same resources is a system that is bound to fail. Bring people to the table. Give people a voice and let them tell you what they need.

  34. Amelia says:

    What stuck out to you from this article?

    As someone who has gotten to read the article four different times through four very different times in my life, I am always struck by the reasons Davis gives for people serving. I find it strange almost that he can take something as complex as service and put the motives behind it into five neat little boxes. I have never agreed with his observation that these are the reasons behind people’s service. I think that people serve for their own complex web of reasons. It is impossible to put their motives into defined categories.

    Why might service be a difficult subject to discuss?

    Service may be difficult to discuss because sometimes people have really personal reasons for doing service-based activities. For me personally, I serve, more now than ever, because it was something that I used to do with my mom. At this point in my life, I am serving as a tribute to her and as a way to feel closer to her now that she is gone. I am comfortable sharing that with my Bonner family, but I know that it might be difficult for me to have some conversation with someone else. I assume that other people out there also have fairly personal reasons for serving that might just be emotional and difficult for them to discuss.

  35. Harriet Koblenzer says:

    People serve for many different reasons. Some people serve because it is their calling from God, others may see themselves in the people they serve, and some get a sense a reward from serving others in need. I definitely agree with these explanations and see it in others. Personally I serve now because of the knowledge I have gained and injustices I have been made aware of from my academics and time in ACE, which has called me to serve and try to fight for those who are oppressed. Service is a touchy subject because there are many different opinions about it. Some people may think all service is good, and others would disagree with those people as some types of service is very low impact and doesn’t get to the root cause of an issue.

  36. Hayley Pij says:

    I really like that we always start the semester by focusing on why we serve and what impact that might have, whether it is positive or negative. Service has an impact and it is critical that we start the year clarifying our intentions. It is important to work with communities and to not come in with the bias that what we know is better. One of the main goals of TRIP is to connect individuals and families with resources they need, and to work with people. TRIP focuses on working with the community by engaging with those who live in our housing, but also opening up trainings and workshops to the whole community.

  37. Brendan says:

    For me, service is important because I believe it is necessary for all of us to work together to improve the world around us. Service can be good for those who serve, and those were are positively impacted by that service.
    Service can be difficult to discuss because there can be a power imbalance between those serving and those being served. I think it is important to remember the quote “Nobody is better than you and you are better than nobody.”

    I think inequality is most unfair when some people start off at such a disadvantage to where it becomes hard for them to reach their full potential. One area I see this locally is education – students in urban areas are often subjected to lower-quality education in schools with fewer resources just because of the school district that their parents live in. Meanwhile, nearby school districts just miles away can be better funded and have better outcomes.

    Finally, I believe when service is done right, is does help solve equality.

  38. Justin Kenyon says:

    According to the article there a 5 reasons that we serve
    1.)we are God’s children
    2.)we share the earth
    3.) I find myself in you
    4.) I win praise by serving you
    5.)I suck
    The two answers that stick out to me are 1 and 2. These are the two main reasons I push myself to be of service in whatever community I may be a part of. The part of the article that stuck out to me was the plethora of different reasons that people serve.

  39. Kathleen Callery says:

    I believe that the reason that ‘service’ can be a difficult conversation is because the word service has taken on many different meanings. I recall my freshman year complaining about my mandatory community service and being worried that my new friends would think I was a criminal out on prohibition. Then as I continued to wear business casual to my classes and extracurricular I changed from saying “I do service” to “I have a community-based internship.” Instantly it had a different ring to it. Service, as Davis explains, has grown into a very admirable thing. Which in my opinion is excellent, doing good for others should be highlighted. However, as many service-leader students have confronted doing community service can be as self-righteous. When community-service has so many different perspectives it becomes difficult to talk about rationally.

  40. Kevin Z says:

    Davis writes about how every person may be serving for a different motive, and while not all of the options are altruistic, they still provide much needed help to communities in need. That is what stuck with me the most about the reading. It does not matter why you’re serving, whether it be for required hours for graduation, or your personal investment in community service, as long as the quality of service is the same, the community benefits just as much. It is important for Bonners to understand this as we will encounter volunteers of all mindsets.

  41. Grace Harris says:

    This year I did not get to read the article at all which is disappointing because every year I get something different. From the past it has really made me wonder what my reasons for serving where and if they where as pure as they appeared to be. I think over time I have really started to understand what it means to really give back to communities and serve in a non self serving way. Other then that I like to see people who serve in a good light and I feel that if one dedicates themselves to a greater cause with good intentions what harm is it really doing. There are communities that need help and if people are willing to dedicate to that I think that is for the most part good. Service is at its core good but I feel like it get tricky when it comes to peoples intentions butb for the most part I see the good in it

  42. Lulama Nyembe says:

    What stuck out to me in from the article was that service can often highlight inequality. This stood out to me because at face value service aims at achieving equality. I never realized that to the person who’s on the receiving end, service might make them more aware of the inequality present.

    Davis states that people are motivated to serve by internal factors such as spiritual beliefs, self-loathing. Although these are all possible motivators of service, I think there are other reasons which might prompt someone to serve. One such influence might be because one is passionate about a specific issue area and seeks to reduce the number of people who are affected by said issue area.

    Service can be mutually beneficial to all parties involved given the approach. However, it may be difficult to discuss because of the various ways to serve and the reasoning behind it. It is often thought that service is a general good. Those who are being served are provided with things they otherwise may not have had if it weren’t for those serving. Regardless of whatever self-serving interests those who serve might have, the result is a positive one. This brings up the question of whether or not the means justify the ends. That makes service difficult to discuss.

    I don’t think direct service does enough to address inequality. It temporarily bridges a gap, but it does not eradicate the gap. Service is important because it allows for immediate action to be taken. In the long-run sustainable service is a more efficient way to promote equity and completely address inequality.

  43. Skylar Nijhawan says:

    What stuck out to me most from this article is the idea of toxic charity.
    According to Davis people serve to make themselves feel better or out of obligation. I do not agree with these explanations. I think something to also motivate service is out of helping bridge the gap between inequalities. Service is good for all of those involved, it held those who need it and allows people to help others out of the goodness of their hearts. Service can be difficult to discuss because people have different opinions of service. There are so many inequalities, whether its education, economic, or gender. Certain sustainability service can address inequalities, but single service can not.

  44. Meredith Payson says:

    Why, according to Davis, do people serve? Do you agree with these explanations? What else might motivate service?
    The article states there are 5 reasons why we serve, we are children of God, we share the earth, I see what I could be in you, I get praise by serving you, I am a terrible person. I do think these are all real reasons people serve. I do think there could be other motivations for serving, like publicity. A lot people will donate a large amount of money or products to people in order to be known for giving to the poor and vulnerable of society.

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