Thinking about the Collective, Selflessness and a Year of Service
During this year’s September 11th tribute, I thought about Obama’s call to make that day of National Day of Service. Is one day enough to make a difference or does it promote slacktivism? I donate time and money to various organizations. I’m even going to Peru for 6 months to volunteer as a Kiva Fellow and I still don’t think that is enough.
Every Israeli citizen goes into the army when they turn 18. Leaving aside the combat draft idea for a moment, why shouldn’t the U.S. have a similar program? A year of service, broadly speaking (whether in the military, volunteering for a non-profit community or civic organization) would teach a sense of collective, selflessness and respect for others as it seems to me that the trend these days is towards individualism and selfishness and disrespect.
Motivation for this post – Some recent examples of selfishness and individualism and disrespect:
- Kanye West’s outburst during Taylor Swift’s Thank You Speech at the MTV’s award ceremony (which I heard about through my Facebook news feed)
- Serena Williams’s threat to the linesperson at the US Open Women’s SemiFinals (Posted on Twitter by Mashable and I saw the video on YouTube)
- Joe Wilson’s heckling the president during Obama’s speech to Congress (see quote from Jams Clyburn on Maureen Dowd’s column – he refers to the internet having a specific role in this degeneration)
Though I realize these examples are celebrities and political figures, known for large egos and outlandish behavior, these are examples we hear the most about in the news and on the internet, in social media, etc. They may respond that it’s not their job to be a role model (except maybe the Congressman). Even so, their public personas make them role models for the behavior of every day people and our children by default.
Some examples of Selflessness and the Collective
- Kiva‘s collective Translation Program, run by a former Kiva Fellow
- Echoing Green Fellows – some from this year are focused on year-long fellowships for young people – For example, Bethany Henderson and the City Hall Fellows & Barbara Bush and Jonny Dorsey and Global Health Corps
- Acumen Fund Fellows – I just met one of these fantastic folks at my Going Away Party
- White House Fellows – one of my friends is participating in that currently.
- Coro Fellows Program in Public Affairs
- Teach for America – most of the teachers of the charter schools I work with come from this program
- NYC Teaching Fellows – my brother Kiran did this and is still teaching in the NYC school district
- Donors Choose – Peer 2 Peer donations to help teachers get classroom supplies
Maybe we are on to something…I wish selflessness examples got more air time than the selfishness. Continue reading