Editorial: Helping hands
This is what Henry David Thoreau had to say, in effect, about volunteers:
"If you see a man approaching you with the obvious intent of doing you good, you should run for your life."
The rugged individualist did not have much use for charity, apparently. But after all he preferred the company of nature to that of society.
We are now oberving National Volunteer Week, a concept that probably would have sent Thoreau even deeper into the woods. Many organizations are recognizing the men, women and children who step out of their own self-absorbed worlds to give their time, money, energy, or even parts of themselves, to help others who need the help.
The recipients of volunteer service may be children needing mentors; patients needing blood; stray animals needing shelter and homes; or even other community organizations needing a monetary boost. In other words, human beings are stepping up to help their fellow humans and to hold the fragile social order together.
Modern volunteerism is a product of an affluent society in which members no longer have to use every waking hour to procure food and shelter. Most Americans have a little extra cash, even $25, they can give to the fire and rescue agencies. Most have a bit of time they can give to help coach youth sports groups, or to teach Sunday school.
And most will respond to a call for help.
That’s a blessing of our present-day society. Instead of dog-eat-dog, the ruling philosophy for most is to stretch out a helping hand. Thoreau’s statement comes across in 2013 as just plain selfish.
An unknown author said, "Those who can, do. Those who can do more, volunteer."
We salute those who reach down inside themselves to do a little more.