Volunteering to help others was part of the world I was born into. Growing up as a member of the Anglican church meant knowing just how good our simple life was, and how hard other people struggled. It was post war and times were difficult.
Being stoic was certainly the order of the day, and suffering in silence the most admired way. During my married life I worked for city based social profit organisations over three decades, as well as volunteering to help out with school tuckshops and local fund raising events, including raising funds to extend the local kindergarten and help the local school.
Recently I saw a call on television for 13,000 volunteers just to man present day school tuckshops, or otherwise children sent to school with money to purchase their lunch may be left wanting. Did you know one in ten Australians are living in poverty and this statistic includes the fact one in six children are too? *
In a country like Australia, which likes to project to the world we are a success story and enjoy a certain quality of life, surely this is a national disgrace that needs a national solution.
Success is never final, and failure is never fatal, what counts in the long run is courage. Courage may be resistance to fear and mastery of fear, but it’s not absence of fear – we all need a little fear to keep ourselves safe.
Courage however is all about doing what you are afraid to do, and it certainly involves being scared. The Aussie spirit used to be about giving everyone ‘a fair go’. Too often we can’t turn our problems into opportunities without help or, more importantly, without having someone beside us who believes in our ability to endure.
Knowing we have someone on our side is a human need that cannot be overlooked. While imagination can turn our possibilities into reality, without belief it is all the harder.
Truly successful people are not afraid to fail. They know its a natural consequence of trying. And you only really fail when you quit trying. So to help those people who have given up trying is the biggest challenge of all.
How can we offer to assist those who feel they are without hope to retain some dignity while we help them back to the level playing field so they may have an opportunity to rectify the situation they find themselves in? From what I read this also seems to be a global problem.
Those who experience homelessness, have usually fallen below the level playing field we theoretically all start from, then it is many times harder for them to climb the huge hill required just to come back to square one before they can even begin to think of going forward. And, once they are there ready to start we have to give them hope that life can improve so that they will be empowered to keep moving forward along with everyone else.
It is very hard and a solution is not something that will come quickly or easily to hand either. Without continuing resources and practical support (volunteers) agencies in Australia, including the Salvos, Streetsmart, Anglicare, Vinnies and all those other valuable organizations who minister to those in need on a daily basis, will face difficulties ministering to those who are in the most need.
You can help immediately by providing funds, or importantly time as a volunteer if you are in a position to do so. Just click the links provided.
The question still remains though, just how do we empower those who will take on matters of social injustice to help others to build a future so that we can all enjoy a high level of understanding, trust and confidence?
Canadian Robert Theobald [1929 – 1999] was an economist, futurist, author and consultant who worked on fundamental change issues for four decades.
In his book, ‘Reworking Tomorrow’, published in 1998, prior to the devastating events of 9/11 he said ‘Despite the widespread frustrations of our time I believe, that we can, and must live with hope. We are capable of making a profound positive shift in our thinking over the next few years. The heart of this shift would be for us to conceptualize the twenty first century as the healing century, just as the twentieth century will certainly be defined in the future as the economic and technological century’.
It has been proven over and over again that investing in people and quality processes produces both sustainable and superior performance. This is as important in an everyday business context as it is in a social environment if the aim is to produce the best results. But how can that happen unless we ask is what we value for ourselves the same as what we want for everyone else?
What would you do to stimulate civic thinking and ask the hard questions about fundamental human and communal values?
- Do you value the right to question and seek answers?
- Do you value the right to tolerate difference, be it racial, religious, sexual, political, philosophical, spiritual, or that of the intellect?
- Would you value the right to protect the vulnerable and enjoy having faith and trust in one another?
- Do you see unconditional love and an ability to respect each others right to agree, or disagree, as aspects important to our wellbeing?
- What value do you place on human life?
- Where and how might truth, fairness, peace, self control and integrity have influence in the business of society?
Here are some questions, not necessarily in order of importance, that we could also ask of ourselves. What support initiatives might we develop in a cultural climate that seems dominated by self interest?
- How do we nurture a caring ‘presence’ for one another?
- Would our world situation improve if we were far more tolerant of difference?
- To what extent are people basing judgments on conceptions of God that are, for many people, no longer generally accepted?
- Is the step to go global philosophically, intellectually and ethnically, as well as economically, now required?
- How can we be a lot more mindful of our own values as we evaluate (and make) major community decisions.
Will you be able to support projects to improve the quality of life for those living below the poverty line in Australia? Do we need a forum with leaders from those organizations with experience, as well as from corporate, creative and community leaders to engage in a meaningful and contemplative dialogue to imagine a long term strategy of hope on a national level.
What do you think? Do you have questions? Or, better still do you have answers?
Help stimulate civic thinking! Offer your point of view.
Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, 2010, 2011
* These statistics were revealed on the Channel 9 Today Show by a Salvation Army spokesperson on October 18th 2010.
**Nineteenth century American cartoonist Kin Hubbard often hit the nail on the head with words