Some of us feel that we can contribute to the world we live in by doing voluntary work. And as long as we are able to contribute well, and regularly, this is very satisfying and is a win-win situation…some good work gets done, and we feel happy at having done something that is not just self-oriented.
But often, one cannot always combine one’s regular work and the voluntary work. Meetings happen when professional or personal commitments clash; one is out of town sometimes; and there are occasions when, on a fairly regular basis, one is not able to attend or contribute.
This often gives rise to what I call “Volunteer Guilt”. “Oh, I promised to take this issue to heart, and work for it, but here I am, unable to devote time or effort to it.” This guilt is sometimes assuaged by what is popularly called “throwing money at the problem”…instead of contributing in terms of effort and time, one contributes money instead. But the guilt never does go away, because one knows that it is the effort one wants to put in.
Sometimes, indeed, a piquant situation happens when one is volunteering one’s effort for one cause and so cannot attend some event or do something important to another one! If I have a cycling rally (advocating cycling instead of taking the car) and a meeting regarding tree-felling, I must take a decision about which to attend..and then, if a friend falls ill that morning, everything gets shelved because I am going to be with the friends through the day! So priorities are often difficult to establish, and maintain steadily.
I think it is important that we do not fall prey to Volunteer Guilt. I have to accept that there are times when my family, or my writing, or whatever, does take priority over the volunatary work I want to do. This is, after all, work that I have undertaken to do in my spare time, so, even though I try my level best, there will be times when it is not possible.
Volunteering is NOT an easy task. Very often, the time taken is NOT in one’s control. A meeting with government officials may start more than an hour after the stipulated time, and go on interminably. Initiatives may fizzle out. Scheduled meetings may not happen. In just the same way as I am unable to devote time that day, other volunteers may also have insuperable difficulties.
So those of you who feel this Volunteer Guilt…as long as you know that you ARE doing what you can, when you can, over and above the call of duty…don’t let the occasional inability get you down. On every volunteer group, there will be members whose intentions are good, but who are, for various reasons, prevented from contributing as much as they can.
But, on the other hand, do not underestimate the help which just your mere presence can make. If it is a public rally, it is easy to think, “Oh, I haven’t been going for the meetings, how will my being there help?” Most certainly your presence WILL help. So…even if just means adding your mental and physical presence to a protest, a meeting, or an initiative….that’s a great help, too.
This post was brought about by one guilt-ridden post from someone…..I think we should all learn to be a little easy on ourselves!
What did I do over the weekend? Not much in the way of festive celebrations, but we were with the only family KM and I have now, and with dear friends…that was happiness enough.
A post without pictures….!