On some level, “commitment” in CAS is somewhat of a misnomer. You are “committed” because you have to be. You have to show up. You have to be there the entire time. That’s kind of how it is. And arguably, that COULD be seen as showing a degree of commitment in the sense that you are showing up every week. It isn’t always easy after all. Or well… that depends on how you define easy. I am sure say a Navy SEAL would laugh in your face if you told them it was difficult to show up for Service on Monday afternoon when you are tired and sleepy and have Math tuition immediately after. In fact, in that context, the very idea of this being remotely challenging seems absurd if not completely nonsensical. Still, arguably there is an element of challenge given how tired everyone is and therefore if commitment is seen as doing something despite the challenge, then there is an element of commitment in showing up to a mandatory service. In fact, in the wider world, commitment happens precisely when things are mandatory or semi mandatory. The construction worker who goes out in the blazing heat to work every day for instance. However, If we want to look at commitment on a level other than going through the motions though that may very well be a different matter. Perhaps commitment here then should be seen not as the act of mere attendance but of participation. To take the example of my kenjutsu lessons. I could of course show up every week and drone through every lesson. It would definitely fulfil CAS commitments. I would still get my diploma. However, the point remains that I remain actually invested in trying to get better. Droning through classes certainly won’t make that happen. And that I suppose is the other way of looking at commitment. Not as perseverance but as motivation. I want to improve my skills with a sword, I want to get better, I want to refine my skills and that’s what drives me to invest myself in classes. And in a way, when attendance is mandatory that may be the better way of viewing commitment. Not whether you show up at all but the degree to which you put yourself into what you show up to. In that sense certainly, it’s possible to show commitment even while knowing that CAS is mandatory.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic that has swept the globe, we haven’t been able to engage in any direct service for quite some time now. However, we did spend some time in school using our usual sessions of Service to try and plan activities we would do once the coronavirus restrictions lifted. Perhaps the most interesting part of this was how we were planning for something in a changing situation where we didn’t know when we would be able to actually go back and do our activities. Maybe it was just me, but this seems to be markedly less motivating than when we knew that we would be going to the lodge in a few weeks time. Something less of a sense of purpose I suppose. Furthermore, it was somewhat disconcerting to see how quickly plans got derailed. For example, we had some sort of joint presentation organised with the other Apex Harmony Lodge group on Friday but that got essentially derailed when the school got outright cancelled and we ended up not coming back. And it was quite disconcerting really when you are planning for something and it just doesn’t happen. And yet… that IS how so many things work in the real world. There are many many startup businesses that don’t make it or crowdfunded campaigns that never amount to much after all. Our experience of Service then is more often than not shaped by the school infrastructure so that the vast majority of the time if we plan something it actually does happen. When other factors get involved though it seems that is not always the case.