Organic Spirituality 6: Humanitarianism
by: Gordon Wayne
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Stage five in our theory of organic spirituality is humanitarianism, the desire to improve humankind by giving something back to our communities and society. The most common methods are giving money and volunteering for a humanitarian organization or a charity without receiving any economic or material compensation. A little humanitarian spirit can go a long way toward improving our communities and our society especially if most adults participate. If a community with a thousand adults volunteers two hours per month per adult, then they have two thousand hours of community service, enough to staff the food bank. Similarly, if a thousand adults each donate five dollars per month, then the community has five thousand dollars for the local library, the community park, or the hospital.
Virtually every citizen can practice some humanitarianism, even poor people who obviously require a little humanitarian assistance themselves. Although poor people need humanitarian assistance more than anybody in our communities, they can volunteer a few hours per month because this does not require money. They could volunteer at a soup kitchen, especially if they use the facility, or they could volunteer at a homeless shelter, particularly if they find shelter there periodically. Although they will not receive financial compensation, they can benefit in other ways such as developing work skills and establishing social connections, both of which are ideal for future opportunities.
Next on the economic scale is the proletariat, hard-working citizens who are barely paying monthly bills and barely putting food on the table, and sometimes juggling multiple jobs. These people have the dual challenge of inadequate finances and little leisure time, especially those working multiple jobs yet they can volunteer at the food bank or charity store. They could volunteer at these humanitarian organizations in exchange for supplies, which violates the prohibition against compensation but we can show compassion due to extenuating circumstances.
Middle class citizens should have the resources to donate money and volunteer at humanitarian organizations and charities. Depending on their income and circumstances, lower-middle class people can probably donate 1% of their income to community projects like the library and humanitarian organizations like homeless shelters. If personal finances are tight, lower-middle class citizens can volunteer a few hours per month, perhaps helping dust library books or cleaning linen for the homeless shelter.
Middle class citizens should have the resources to donate money to reputable charities and volunteer at humanitarian organizations. Depending on their income and circumstances, lower-middle class people can probably donate 1% of their income to community projects like the library and humanitarian organizations like animal shelters. If personal finances are tight, they can volunteer a several hours every month, perhaps dusting library books, cleaning linen for the homeless shelter, or raking leaves the community park.
Upper-middle class citizens can probably donate 2% of their income to worthy charities and humanitarian organizations. If a community of one thousand upper-middle class adults donates five dollars per adult, they can contribute $5000 per month to humanitarian institutions like the children’s hospital. They can also volunteer several hours per month to commendable organizations like Habitat for Humanity, which builds housing for good citizens at the lower end of the economic scale. One thousand volunteers can construct a new home every month or two months, and in doing so, giving their less fortunate citizens a priceless psychological boost.
Upper-class citizens can probably donate 5% of their income to the charities and community projects, and they could also volunteer for humanitarian organizations. Volunteering has some important benefits for wealthy people because aristocrats frequently have an elevated and unrealistic understanding of the challenges of poverty and the proletariat. Worse, they can easily adopt an unforgiving judgmental attitude toward their less fortunate compatriots when they are lounging in an executive office or posh penthouse condominium. By volunteering a few hours of their valuable time at the local soup kitchen, they can develop a realistic and humane appreciation of life at the lower end of society.
Humanitarianism is a perfectly human way to give something back to our communities and help our fellow citizens who are less fortunate than ourselves. We can give time or money to charitable organizations, preferably reputable nonprofit, nonviolent organizations wholly dedicated to improving the quality of life for humans everywhere. Every little humanitarian act helps improve our communities, and every small contributions help especially when every responsible adult participates. Five volunteers can clean a large soup kitchen within a couple of hours; ten volunteers can clean the average community park inside an afternoon; twenty volunteers can paint the local library in one day; thirty volunteers can prepare, serve, and clean up a barbeque for terminally-ill patients.
Although we cannot benefit materially or profit financially, every humanitarian act has important benefits, important intangible, immaterial benefits. If we volunteer at community organizations like the school or library, we have the opportunity to step away from our own problems, which can turn us into narcissistic ogres. Whenever we volunteer at a soup kitchen, homeless shelter, or hospital, we can witness the challenges others must surmount, and then we realize the triviality of our own problems.
Although we cannot benefit materially or profit financially, every humanitarian act has important benefits, important intangible, immaterial benefits. If we volunteer at community organizations like the school or library, we have the opportunity to step away from our own problems, which can turn us into narcissistic ogres. Whenever we volunteer at a soup kitchen, homeless shelter, or hospital, we can witness the challenges others must surmount, and then we realize the triviality of our own problems. Also, volunteering helps build our self-esteem, is an excellent addition to our resume, and an excellent way to cultivate friendships. Finally, whenever we do a good deed that helps our communities and our fellow humans, we can honestly state that we have achieved full organic spirituality.