General Question

mangeons's avatar

If you do community service because someone makes you, is it still a good deed?

Asked by mangeons (12125 points ) January 30th, 2009

Like, instead of going to jail, etc?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

21 Answers

mea05key's avatar

Of course it is. there is a reason for every action that people do. As long as you do the right thing it does not matter what the reason is.

Mr_M's avatar

A lot of people are PAID to do community service and “good deeds”. Do we fault them because the dollar makes them? No.

Whatever CRIME you committed, well that’s another story.

Jeruba's avatar

I think the spirit of “good deed” is its voluntariness. Doing community service under duress, as a sentence imposed by the court or a diversionary program for an offender, does not make it less of a good thing to do. A good thing is always a good thing. But it does not stand to your credit in some imaginable good-deed register in the same way that true giving does.

LKidKyle1985's avatar

I think the word we are looking for here is altruistic. It is a good deed, but you are not being altruistic in doing it.

Bluefreedom's avatar

Philanthropy, charity, and community service, no matter how it is given or performed, is always beneficial in some way or another because someone is benefitting, somehow, from your efforts. So, I would say yes, it is always a good deed despite the extenuating circumstances that led someone to performing the community service in the first place.

steelmarket's avatar

The community is getting the benefits, as opposed to the community and you getting the benefits.

marinelife's avatar

Half credit.

bristolbaby's avatar

the local high school is a private academy, but the town pays tuition for the students to go. One of the requirements for graduation is community service. Students must perform so many hours of service. It is a good deed even though it’s required.

Jeruba's avatar

@Bluefreedom, so a youngster caught in possession of drugs and sentenced to 100 hours of community service in lieu of going to juvie is doing “good deeds”? And it’s the same as service given in a spirit of helpfulness through the agency of a school or a community-based service organization? Those kids in orange halters picking up trash out by the freeway under the eye of a county sheriff are doing “good deeds”? Intent makes no difference? What’s in the heart makes no difference?

As a parent of a (former) youngster who served one of those sentences, I can tell you that I did not for a moment think he was doing good deeds. I thought he was being punished, and too lightly at that. How can an act performed as a penalty have the meaning and value of a good deed? Or don’t we mean anything by “good deed” except that someone benefited—maybe even by accident?

Jack79's avatar

well the result is still a good deed, but I think if you are forced to do it, then it’s the same as being paid for it. And not the same as doing it voluntarily.

scamp's avatar

My thinking on this subject is between Jeruba’s point of view and Bluefreedom’s. I think the intent of the person preforming the service is very important because it will affect the outcome of the job done. By this I mean to say something you do willingly and cheerfully will certainly be done much better than a task you are forced to do. If your heart is in it, you will do the best job possible, and if it’s not you will only preform well enough to get by.

In the long run, a good deed has been done, but in many cases, the one sentenced to the task cannnot ake credit for it. The way to earn full credit is to do something similar when not court ordered.

fireside's avatar

I think that if you are forced into community service, it is a good deed if you get into the spirit of the deed. If you are sent to a school to clean floors and end up stealing from the lockers, then it is not a good deed. But if you are sent to a senior living center and actually start to enjoy reading to or spending time with the people there, then it is a good deed.

It may be beneficial to the community if you simply do the work, but in order for it to be a good deed, it should be done out of goodness even if begrudgingly at first

mangeons's avatar

I completely agree with Jeruba.

Jeruba's avatar

My comments don’t have to do with the meaning of giving service and the salutary effects on beneficiaries. They have to do with the definition of an expression, which is how I understood the question.

Bluefreedom's avatar

@Jeruba. Yes, those kids are still doing something positive even when they’re doing it as punishment, in my opinion. I could go for the completely cynical approach on this but I don’t see the need for that. That is why I made sure to add in my answer:

”....it is always a good deed despite the extenuating circumstances that led someone to performing the community service in the first place.”

Maybe I have a little too much compassion for my own good or I’m simplifying my answers too much but I don’t think so.

Jeruba's avatar

I don’t deny that they’re doing something positive. Of course they are. I am just saying that isn’t the definition of “good deed.”

Extenuating circumstances (1, 2) are circumstances that mitigate or lessen the gravity of a crime. They’re not the crime itself. It’s a crime that leads to punishment and not an extenuating circumstance that leads to punishment, don’t you agree? And the act of servce is the punishment, as we are discussing it.

Bluefreedom's avatar

@Jeruba. I think I can see where you are coming from. I’m probably basing my answer on my really loose interpretation of the concept of a good deed. I’m looking more at the end result of said service as opposed to anything else.

fireside's avatar

I guess this is about as vague as bad behavior
Is the intent of the behavior what makes it bad, or it it the result?

Sounds like you are on opposite sides of the intent | effect fence

maybe_KB's avatar

Its not what you know
It’s what you do

galileogirl's avatar

There is a difference between doing ‘good deeds’ and doing mandated service as a penalty, but only to the person engaged in the activity. (If one is doing volunteer work for public credit, that is something else)

What should matter to us is that individuals are contributing to the community no matter what the circumstances. We all pay taxes, don’t we? Does it matter if we do it because we believe it is our duiy as citizens or because we are scared of thr IRS?

So no brownie points or kudos for contribution to society, but those of rou who don’t do your share-SHAME ON YOU!!!

cak's avatar

What I would hope, is you learn something while doing the community service.

Learn that there is always someone in a far worse position that you can ever dream of, and learn how to help them.

Learn that your bad behavior, bad choices – whatever it was that brought you to this point in life, was a decision you made and executed. Change your life, NOW. Community service, versus jail time, is a gift. Don’t abuse it.

While this may not be something you want to do, maybe you will learn to care enough about yourself and others to start doing the right thing.

I’m not sure how to tell you whether you get “good life brownie points” for this, or not; however, I can tell you that it’s a huge chance to change and do the right thing.

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