OVER THE first few issues of CCC Life we have drawn attention to some really rich people who have put their money to good use.
There will be another such person in this issue. But there is another type of person, another breed of philanthropist, and this breed often goes unnoticed.
Mr Cameron, the UK Prime Minister, talked of ‘The Big Society’ where ordinary people helped other ordinary people and it seemed he thought it was his idea, as though he had created it. The society I live in, we all live in, in the UK and across the planet, has always contained those whose life would not be complete without service to others. The community I live in would not, could not, function without a band of unsung people who help each other.
Here people are often motivated by their religion: our local church funds a play group for under threes and their parents, where they can meet each other and chat, while their little kids make contact with each other.
Scouts and Guides, alongside their main vows, to God and the Monarch, also promise to help other people. In many villages, the local vicar is the one who visits the lonely old people, regardless of their membership of the church.
Muslim communities are very strong. Their old are cherished and feel secure, family ties are very strong and they do not feel abandoned or unsupported. The tradition that young people go and visit ‘Auntie’, and do little jobs for her means that older people in their community are not marginalised. Jewish communities function likewise, as do many other religious or cultural groups.
There is, however, another group of people in society who do what they do for no reason at all, religious or secular, except that it is right to do so.
Most youth football organisations, offering healthy sporting activities, (nowadays for boys and girls) are run by volunteers, who give up their time generously to stand around in the cold, offering support and advice to their young charges. Most amateur dramatic groups are run by people who give their time; if you can find anyone making money from running club-type groups, please let me know, so I can join in.
Neighbours still care for each other. Society is not broken; there are cracks in it and some people fall through them and become marginalised, but this is not new. There have always been people who cannot manage on their own, and there have always been people prepared to give their time and effort to others, regardless of personal cost.
Research shows that the major charities throughout the world could not operate without the generosity of those who, now retired, have more time (though less money) to offer their services.
Look closely at the person who called round your door last week to collect the envelope for whatever charity. Chances are they won’t be in their mid-thirties. They will probably be in the generation who should be at home getting a good rest after a long working life.
No matter what Government tells us, this will still go on. People will still offer to run a stall to raise money for a charity that itself raises money that should perhaps be the responsibility of us all, through our taxes. I mean, what are we doing needing Cancer Research charities, or those involved in supporting children in need?
The reality is that we do need extra help in all areas of society, and much of this will be given by volunteers.
So I’m writing this to remind us all that we deserve a pat on the back for all we put into the society we inhabit. It’s human nature to be selfish, to want to succeed, to be rich, to be successful and famous. Fortunately it is also human nature to support the weak and prevent suffering where we can. There’s no choice for us, but to be selfish, in my opinion, since we are all we have. It’s a wonderful fact of life though, that most of us feel the need to share what we have, be it much or little.
Young people learn from the lead of their elders. The older members of our society are showing them a good example. Many of the young also give their time to help those who need help; their children will learn from them. And so it continues. Raise a glass for the human race; long may it continue to be more ‘good’ than ‘bad’. Let’s have three cheers for our unsung heroes.
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