Volunteerism vs. Pragmatism

It never came to my mind to contest the two things before. I did many volunteer works, this and that, as always, as a routine. Yet some experiences of friends’ and mine remind me about something which I and many people might forget for a long time. It isn’t about how big the impact of what we’ve done is or what result of what we’ve done is, but it is about an intention within our heart in doing the activism. It’s all about heart and feeling, not rationality or logic.

As we all know, volunteerism can be simply defined as an activity which is done for other people or noble purpose without thinking of getting something as a return. The definition is easily understood by us all yet sometimes we are confused by the implementation. In fact, volunteerism is sometimes collided with the interests of volunteers. Many people do volunteer works, not to contribute and serve the people as a purpose, but to get other thing from it. Some want to get an award from their volunteer activities, some want to make their CVs look good and others want to pump up their popularities. It all seems to be a depiction of there is no such a free lunch in today’s world.

A few days ago, a friend of mine asked me about volunteer activity in which he can get involved without any commitment. Then I asked him about what reason he took so he finally came up with an idea to get involved in volunteer work. I was wondering why a person like him, who usually do anything by money turned to be a social-oriented person. He frankly spoke to me, “No, I don’t change. I am still a rational person having a rational purpose and volunteer work is the way to reach the purpose.” He told me that he wanted to get involved in volunteer work only to get a story so he could write down for his essay participated in essay competition. Of course, the winner prize is so tempting for everyone.

A few months ago, a friend getting involved in volunteer work at the same place with me. Firstly, I was dazzled by her beauty and compassion. I saw her passion to help unfortunate people was even hundred or even million times better than mine. During a training, I saw a great spirit of volunteerism and great passion from her eyes. She always tried to put strong words and thought every time she spoke about our programme. I thought that she was a real woman should be, beautiful inside and outside. However, my judgement about her turned to be different as she showed the real of her a few moments before we finished our project. A month before we finished our project, after she won kind of social activist-prize, she never appeared in the place where we worked, yet I met her once in a city centre when she did shopping.

At campus, as a lot more students in my department getting scholarship to go abroad, many more students want to do the same. Some students asked student having just come back from her exchange programme about the secret to get a scholarship. She answered, “Besides having a good GPA, get involved in volunteer work! Doing volunteer work will make a good impression to the reviewers.” This kind of answer might not only from a student in my department but also from other students getting scholarships abroad.

These phenomena then make me ask myself, “Am I just like them or different?”; “Were all I’ve done based on right intention or pragmatism?”. Until now, it is still difficult to me to answer these questions since everything seems to be very complex and blended as one. However, one thing I can say for sure is that we ourselves, who know most about what we’re doing and what the intention behind. If we do it by wrong intention, our sins aren’t to community or organization we get involved in, but to the people or society we represent, the people whose names we bring with.

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One comment

  1. Having volunteer work to support your achievement is good. However, having volunteer work because you’re really in to it and you want to advance your society is much better 🙂

    keep volunteering, no matter what it gives you.

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