30 Aug

Something that’s been on my list of topics to write about for a long time is the idea that everyone (who has the time, money and means) should volunteer. My thoughts on this topic have been pretty consistent for myself throughout my life. I’ve always known that volunteering my time for things I care about is productive and makes me feel good. But, my ideas have developed a tad bit further.

In the past, I’ve had discussions with several people to whom volunteering does not appeal. I’ve always encouraged people to do what they can to help others/the environment/whatever they care about, but have never said it is an imperative for becoming a fully developed, self-actualized human being. Now, I’m starting to think it might be.

A couple of months ago, I was encouraging a good friend of mine at the time to become a more active person, generally. He is smart, well-educated, has lots of time on his hands, and is always “there” for a friend in need. But he never seemed like he was applying those traits to anything other than day-to-day life.  During that conversation, he sarcastically asked “what, do you just want me to go serve a soup kitchen?” I said, no, no, I just feel like you’re not doing things that make you feel happy and productive.  I didn’t want to seem like I was insisting on volunteerism, since it might not be for everyone.

Now, I wish I had said: Yes! I want you to volunteer at a soup kitchen or tutor school children or fight for women’s reproductive rights or spend time with elderly veterans. Do something. I believe everyone who has the time and the means to be generous should be. Imagine if 9 out of every 10 people in the United States volunteered for an hour a week. That’s 14,367,600,000 hours of volunteerism each year. Between September 2008 and September 2009 only about 26.8% of the population volunteered. What would our country/world look like if that increased to 90%? How would people’s lives be changed? How would we feel?

Having the time, energy, and means to volunteer is a privilege and those of us who have all those things should embrace that privilege and do what we can.


2 Responses to “Yes!”

  1. Carrie August 31, 2010 at 10:50 am #

    I agree that if everyone did x amount of volunteering over x amount of time that x would get done. But I also believe that if everyone did that, then they wouldn’t be able to live their lives as they see fit, which would be an infringement on free will. I’ve never been drawn to volunteerism– it does make me feel good, but there are many other things I do with my time that further my own life and help others in small ways, and I feel good about that, too.

    • annanettie August 31, 2010 at 3:18 pm #

      Yeah, I know there are a lot of people who feel the same way you do. Also, my plan wasn’t really to kidnap anyone and force them to volunteer against their will. These are just my thoughts on the matter, do with them what you will.

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