What We Don’t Talk About When We Don’t Talk About Service


Adam Davis




What We Don't Talk About When We Don't Talk About Service




Do acts of service move us toward equality? Where will the server be, five years from any particular service transaction? Where will the served be? What do we learn, when we serve? What do we learn when we are served? What don’t we talk about when we don’t talk about service?


--Adam Davis

Director, Center for Civic Reflection


Civic Engagement


​Adam Davis is the Director of Project on Civic Reflection. With Elizabeth M. Lynn, he co-edited The Civically Engaged Reader (Great Books Foundation, 2006),from which this essay is taken. Davis begins the essay by commenting on the recent "vogue for service" that is sweeping the nation, but notes that we seem reluctant to reflect on that service. "It seems to be so clear that Service is Good (SIG) that we do not need to question service or to talk about it; we only need to do it." Davis goes on to question the assumption that service is good, as well as the assumption that we need not reflect on it, asking why we serve, whether service is always good, and why we are so reluctant to talk about it. Davis's piece also brings up questions about motives and values in relation to service and how these impact why we serve.