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Youngsters Contribute Many Hours to Volunteer

Editor, Times-Dispatch: I read with interest Ross Mackenzie’s column, “Universal Service and the Odyssey of the Self-Centered Self,” which decried the lack of volunteer activity among the Commonwealth’s young people.

While I applaud his call for universal service of one kind or another, I do think there is a new cause-driven mentality emerging in our college-age students. For example, at William & Mary, three out of four students volunteer their time to community organizations, totaling more than 150,000 volunteer hours each year, and each year the college contributes a great many students both to Teach America and the Peace Corps – two endeavors that approach in their missions what Mackenzie suggests for a program of universal service.

Another example is “Virginia 21,” a nonpartisan political organization that has engaged thousands of college students on the campuses of all of the state’s universities to promote legislation that will make our state a better place in which to live, work, and raise their families.

A last example would be the more than 900-plus new teachers who have come into our Richmond school system in the past four years. These are cause-driven young teachers, male and female, who want to teach and make a difference by teaching in an urban environment.

Yes, there may be many self-centered young people, but I would contend that it is our generation (Mackenzie’s and mine) that complains more and does less to make a difference. We, and many more like us in the business community, are, in my opinion, a more self-centered generation than those who are following behind us. James E. Ukrop. richmond.

Personal Note (like this whole blog isn’t mine personally, but humor me):

Mackenzie is the homophobic editorial writer at the Richmond Times-Dispatch who has a knack for living in the past and expecting the future to look the same. He wants mandatory universal government service imposed on all persons, sort of like a civilian draft. Everything I read from this guy makes me want to march over to the Times-Dispatch building and punch the guy in the gut.

Oh, whoops. Sorry. Too violent? I promise I’d help him off the floor.

Here’s some polite response – such a system flies in the face of the idea of freedom. But let’s pretend we live in Ross world where days of old are just like new. Such as system would be all but impossible to administer and would lead to a kind of Gestapo-like enforcement class.

But, returning to this world and this reality, when a person is left to do as heart and conscience dictates, we have true freedom – not when rule is given from above and government dictates. If that doesn’t create the cozy little world that Ross has in mind, so be it.

Not to mention – everyone is self-centered. Everyone does everything they do out of either self-centeredness or they are forced to do otherwise (which, as I said, is really what would end up happening in Ross’ mandatory service world). Anyone who says otherwise is full of B.S. If it makes you feel good to help others, it’s because we all feel better about ourselves when we are helping others. That natural selfishness is both what helps us survive personally, but what makes us want to contribute socially.

Oh – but don’t bother old Ross with psychological blather. It’s too complex. He wants to live in a land of simplicity where all aspects of living are prescribed by the big nanny government, who will protect us and guide us in moral fortitude.

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