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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Editorial: Shining Light On Volunteerism

How can one make the United States a better country? Well, according to the late President John F. Kennedy, one should “ask”.

Answers to such a question may be more plentiful if a national service bill passes legislation in Washington. The bill is known as the Call to Service Act (S.1972) and its aim is to promote and expand volunteer opportunities across the country.

The lead sponsors of the Call to Service Act are Senator John McCain (R-AZ) and Evan Bayh (D-IN). Both politicians recently lead a summit at the John F. Kennedy Library. Admission was free to the public and citizens were given the opportunity to ask the senators questions and address concerns about the proposed bill.

Volunteerism is an ideal that has long been neglected. In today’s rough and tumble world, it may be more important than ever to try and revive this dormant practice of goodwill and selfless action.

The effects and consequences of September 11 are frequently in the minds of many Americans and millions across the nation rallied around one another in support for one reason or another. However, such notions of volunteerism may be a shortcoming of focusing on the larger picture.

Volunteerism should be a day-to-day mode of operation in American society, not just the result of a crisis or tragedy. As hard is it may be to believe (or remember), there were problems, many grave and threatening, before that fateful day in September. Some of those grave issues that could be aided through volunteerism go largely unacknowledged.

The mission statement of UMass Boston focuses on a strong commitment to the community as well as to the classroom. How appropriate that the summit on the Call to Service Act to took place next door to an urban institution of higher learner which embodies many of the same ideals that the hopefully-soon-to be-passed bill does.

Volunteerism is not about fulfilling a mandated requirement; it is not about building and strengthening a résumé. It is about one thing: selfless giving. Yet, the proposed bill has not received the attention it deserves in the media. It does not involve the War on Terror, the crisis in the Church, or matters of residency for gubernatorial candidates. It is not a glitzy topic for the media and therefore it is, for the most part, ignored.

Volunteerism is not the answer to every social problem or even the entire answer to any one particular problem. There is even a fair share of politicians that are in favor of volunteerism, but for a different reason. They’ll pay the citizens of this country to shoot a gun, but they’ll demand that a river cleanup be done for free and in the spirit of volunteerism.

Americans should concern themselves with the vital social problems of this country and around the world, and volunteerism should play a significant role. Although the legacy of John f. Kennedy’s commitment to volunteerism lives on, the completion of that dream goes largely unfulfilled. Undivided attention should be given to volunteerism and hopefully this bill is the first step, even if it does nothing more than provide information and opportunities.