Wednesday, December 5, 2018

"A Thousand Points of Light:" Volunteerism in 2018 and Beyond


In honor of President George H.W. Bush's passing, I thought I would post his speech in which he called for greater volunteerism, painting a picture of a thousand points of light.  We live, of course, in cynical and mean times (and yes, the Willie Horton advertisement didn't help).  But there is still reason to believe in the "kindler and gentler" mantra the President talked about after the campaign was over.  Here is what the UN's 2018 Report, "The Thread that Binds:  Volunteerism and Community Resilience" says about the spirit of volunteerism and its impact on communities:

Resilient communities allow for dynamic interactions between people facing threats and their environments. Understanding how such interactions occur is essential for supporting people-led approaches to peace and development. Volunteerism enables individuals to work together, shaping collective opportunities for dealing with risk and connecting individuals and communities with wider systems of support. Volunteerism as a universal social behaviour is therefore a critical resource for community resilience.  At the same time, communities around the world are changing, often in response to an increased frequency and intensity of shocks and stresses. Little is known about how this influences volunteerism and its manifestations across different contexts. In light of these changing patterns of risk, it is important to understand if and how individuals and groups are continuing to organize and connect and whether collective responses within communities are ultimately reinforcing or challenging the wider social, political and economic inequalities that exacerbate the vulnerability of marginalized groups.  This 2018 State of the World’s Volunteerism Report (SWVR), The thread that binds, looks at how volunteerism and community resilience interact across diverse contexts. It explores the strengths and limitations of community responses to a range of shocks and stresses, and it examines how external actors can build on  communities’ self-organization in a complementary way, nurturing the most beneficial characteristics of volunteerism while mitigating against potential harms to the most vulnerable. In doing so, the report provides an important contribution to the evidence base on inclusive, citizen-led approaches to resilience-building.

Voluntary, nongovernmental organizations are still indispensable to societies of all sorts.  Some protest, some build, some seek to tear down the old order.  Whatever the case, tax and non-tax laws should be continually scrutinized to ensure those laws do not dim the thousand points of light.




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