Community Service: Start Small, but Start

Usually, when I bring up the topic of community service with a member of the Jedi community, I am treated to a list of reasons why that person cannot engage in service activities. Granted, most of us have some physical limitations and limited amounts of time and money. But I am surprised and a bit dismayed to realize that people immediately think of large efforts as the only way to do service. Or that it is the only type of service that “counts” among the Jedi organizations.

Early in the history of the Jedi Temple, we had a discussion thread devoted to documenting service activities. We encouraged any and every volunteer activity to be recorded as inspiration to others and to celebrate that we were as much devoted to offline community improvement as to online self-development.

In many ways, it was wildly successful. It was a very active thread, where people logged actions as small as returning a shopping cart to its corral and as large as volunteering to building a house for Habitat for Humanity. Most of the actions were in the vein of a “random act of kindness” … but I think it did inspire people to be aware of the many, daily opportunities that present themselves to us constantly. It encouraged students and visitors to be mindful and see what was around them all day, every day. The chance to brighten someone’s day with a small action.

For those of us who are returning to the community and our training, I would like to recommend that you pick up the practice again of doing something, anything, no matter how small, whenever you see the opportunity.

I do not think that there is anything that is too small to count. And I do not think that any of us cannot contribute in some way. My late grandmother, bedridden and on dialysis, crocheted toys for children until her dying day. You, reading this, have something that you can do for another. Find it and do it. Today.

You give up your seat every day in the train.

Well… But that’s not heroic.

It is to the person who sits in it.

Turteltaub, J. (1995). While You Were Sleeping. Buena Vista Pictures.

Published by

Barbara Z. Johnson

Barbara Z. Johnson is a professor of computer science at an undisclosed small, liberal arts college and also has taught in education and media arts/game development departments at several universities. She is also a sci-fi/fantasy geek who researches the educational uses of video-games, fan-fiction, and online simulations. Currently, she is researching science education in Minecraft.

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