Math class finally makes sense

 

 

Ryan Bendinelli

Pre-calculus was not fun. In general, I never liked math. However, my pre-calculus class in high school was, without a doubt, the hardest.

My teacher had one of the cruelest systems for getting students to do their homework. Whenever someone missed an assignment, they had to write the following paragraph 10 times with that number doubling with each subsequent missed homework: “I long to accomplish a great and noble task. But, it is my chief duty to accomplish humble tasks as though they were great. The world is moved along not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes, but by the aggregate of tiny pushes by each honest worker.” The fact that I remember it so well should demonstrate why the class was so difficult for me. Nonetheless, I rarely took time to reflect on what the paragraph actually meant.

Political fanatics (such as myself) tend to get too engrossed in their own beliefs. We all are convinced that we have the solution to the world’s problems, and everyone else should simply listen. Oddly enough, a major lesson in civics can be learned from that math class. If each of us tried our best to change the world in small ways, it would become a much better place.

This past weekend was Villanova’s second annual Day of Service. Everyone and their mother participated. Students, faculty, staff, alumni and relatives of all sorts took the day to go out in the world and do something. This something could have been anything. There were people helping to build houses, people making cards for veterans and sorting food. Groups spent time with the elderly and played basketball with kids. My day led me to St. Augustine’s Parish to help clean up the grounds. I spent time painting doors, moving tables and pulling weeds. It may not have been the most glamorous work, but it was satisfying.

At the end of the day, I knew I had accomplished something that was not for me. Hopefully, the parish will not have to worry about little things like that and can dedicate more efforts to its own community service projects. In our few hours at the church, I learned that it houses a ministry for homeless women, makes meals for the hungry, hosts meetings for recovering addicts, offers a program for the youth of the area and works with the Augustinian volunteers. This is all in addition to the normal sacramental services offered by every parish. I only wish I could have done more for them in half a day.

It can be hard not to get absorbed in the major issues of the world. We do not know when there will be a terrorist attack. We are not sure if we will have access to quality health care after graduating, and we know in our hearts that we want others to have it as well. We see people our age laying down their lives halfway across the world and are puzzled as to why the world needs to be that way. We hear news of house foreclosures and cannot imagine such an awful experience. It is important to get involved in politics, and to understand the world. The effects of the government are very real. Sometimes it is able to help; sometimes it only exacerbates problems. However, small efforts by many people can never be underestimated.

If I could go back to pre-calculus, I would definitely thank my teacher for the important lesson. In a way, not doing my homework probably taught me more than doing any number of equations would have. While the world does need its heroes to make a major impact on society, small efforts by each person can make an equal difference in the world.

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Ryan Bendinelli is a senior political science major from Millington, N.J. He can be reached at [email protected]