I recently read some (to me) interesting statistics. For the 12 months ending September 2013, only 25.4% of Americans over age 18 volunteered their time and/or money. That’s one in four adults. Of this population, 40.8% got involved after being asked to volunteer or donate. 43% engaged on their own initiative. If I’ve done my math correctly, less than half of that ‘one in four’ people acted on their own.
I cannot comment on comparable data in other countries but as an American, I find this news bewildering. Individuals aged 65 and over contributed on average 96 hours of their time annually which is understandable given their greater amount of discretionary time. The median adult commitment was 52 hours annually. That averages one hour per week.
Americans, I believe, are a generally generous people. We tend to be a compassionate lot, especially in times of devastation and destruction. Many are moved to local acts of kindness in support of people who have lost their jobs, homes and/or family lives. Our willingness to contribute is most often in the form of charitable giving and volunteering of time. Yet I wonder…
In a country (and world for that matter) where there exists so much pain and suffering, where poverty, hunger, pollution, overpopulation and government corruption are increasingly pressing issues — how much of our time, talents and energy can we give to help those in serious need? What within us drives our desire to give to others, especially when we are abundantly blessed? I recognize personal choice is involved yet is giving a moral responsibility?
Most of us have a passion for our own growth. Yet none of us can succeed alone. We need to be there for others. And we can do this not only by offering time and money but by giving respect. We can become a servant of and to others. We can become friends with people we may be uncomfortable befriending. We can acutely listen to, not just hear their plights and basic needs.
So I wonder… How much giving is enough? Is it ever enough? Who defines what is enough? Is it one-time or is it continually? How much of your giving is coming from your heart and how much of what you give is a personal sacrifice?
We can feel. We can care. We can educate. We can inspire. We can give. More.
For those who believe I am on a soapbox, please feel free to share your thoughts. The more I age, the more I become aware, the more I know that it is about giving it away for free. And the beauty in doing that is ever so rewarding.