Hu­man Kind­ness is Lim­it­less

Vol­un­teers serve as a cat­a­lyst for change in so­ci­ety. It is im­por­tant to pro­vide a sup­port­ive en­vi­ron­ment to these self­less in­di­vid­u­als and or­ga­ni­za­tions so that they may ex­tend a level of ser­vice that con­trib­utes to true nation-build­ing.

Southasia - - Cover Story - By Ta­hera Sa­jid

The cul­ture of vol­un­teerism is in­her­ent in many so­ci­eties and acts as a sup­ple­ment to state func­tions. It is an ex­pres­sion of the spirit of hu­man com­pas­sion. Some­times, how­ever, it is also a re­sponse to the fail­ure of the state ap­pa­ra­tus that prompts peo­ple to form sup­port net­works with friends and fam­i­lies in times of cri­sis. What­ever the rea­son, so­ci­eties at large ben­e­fit tremen­dously from self­less acts of de­voted vol­un­teers.

Vol­un­teer work is de­fined as work mo­ti­vated not by ma­te­rial gains or ex­ter­nal pres­sures, but by free will. It may in­clude as­sist­ing the phys­i­cally, so­cially or men­tally dis­ad­van­taged, run­ning lit­er­acy pro­grams and disease preven­tion and aware­ness cam­paigns by con­tribut­ing time, skills and re­sources. A ques­tion that of­ten comes to mind is how the spirit of com­pas­sion takes root in com­mu­ni­ties in the first place, and whether it is de­pen­dent on the level of af­flu­ence in so­ci­eties. A cur­sory glance at some as­pects of de­vel­oped and un­der­de­vel- oped cul­tures around the world shows mo­ti­vated peo­ple in all so­cio-eco­nomic groups, and some­times more so in dis­ad­van­taged groups wherein the el­e­ment of em­pa­thy plays an im­por­tant role even though fi­nan­cial con­straints may par­a­lyze ac­tion. That is where in­ter­na­tional char­ity or­ga­ni­za­tions play an im­por­tant role by of­fer­ing fi­nan­cial sup­port to gen­uine hu­man­i­tar­ian causes.

In the U.S., the spirit of vol­un­teerism is in­cul­cated from a very young age, start­ing with pre-school chil­dren. By in­volv­ing their par­ents in ed­u­ca­tional and fun ac­tiv­i­ties, the com­mu­nity takes a teach-by-ex­am­ple route. As we go higher up the ed­u­ca­tional lad­der, this trend is fur­ther seen to be strength­ened when col­leges en­cour­age ‘Gap-year’ vol­un­teer work ex­pe­ri­ences at home and abroad. The idea is to work on a cause one feels pas­sion­ate about and learn valu­able life lessons along the way. Need­less to say, these pro­grams ben­e­fit re­cip­i­ent so­ci­eties tremen­dously.

The pos­si­bil­i­ties are there­fore end­less when it comes to se­lect­ing one’s cause – from be­com­ing a part of char­i­ties fo­cus­ing on cre­at­ing safe and sup­port­ive at­mos­phere for small chil­dren, to get­ting in­volved in press­ing eco­nomic sit­u­a­tions like pro­vi­sion of affordable hous­ing for low-in­come fam­i­lies.

When choos­ing so­cial vol­un­teerism as their pas­sion, Amer­i­can cit­i­zens are never short of op­por­tu­ni­ties in their mul­ti­cul­tural and mul­ti­eth­nic so­ci­ety. So­cial vol­un­teerism helps de­velop a healthy plu­ral­is­tic cul­ture that

The Amer­i­can spirit of vol­un­teerism has greatly ben­e­fited

South Asian so­ci­eties.

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