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Volunteering and Sacrificing as a Pathway to Development

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When examining our past behavior, we’re all preoccupied with questions of morality. Are my actions fueled purely out of care for my fellow man, or maybe by a profound self-centeredness? Sometimes the delineation between the two is a sharp line. Sometimes it is a blur, and often it’s like art: you just know when you see it. These questions are vital, since they tether us to each other and to humanity. But we, as a society, haven’t done enough. It’s a matter of record, of facts. During the economic crisis, thousands of Greeks have committed suicide, tens of thousands are homeless and more than two million are unemployed. Facts like those, have no moral judgment. They merely state what is, not what we think of them. But this crisis provides a chance for societal change, since it is a challenge to every single one of us: to repair the rotten foundation of an outdated society, by creating and promoting a healthy collective mentality, which will to a great degree to move forward and make progress not only as a community but as a nation.

The act of volunteerism, one of the most straightforward ways of promoting solidarity and societal stability, has seen a resurgence in the recent years in students, since it is a prerequisite for our university applications. It is our duty to ensure that volunteerism becomes entrenched within our society, promoting values such as communal interest, and not used simply as a stepping stone in one’s career. Volunteerism allows us to ensure that we do not live in a world dominated by egocentrism, and feelings of fear and hostility for our fellow man, because even in the darkest of times, we cannot relinquish the things that make us human.

Some will tell you that human nature is self-preservation, that volunteering is illogical. But to conclude that our nature is egoism by observing people in a society centered around greed is like watching people working at a factory where pollution is destroying their lungs and concluding that it is human nature to cough. Choosing insensibility, while it is convenient short-term, will inevitably serve as a catalyst for further social unrest. Let us not become zealots of self-interest, automatons in an unforgiving society, but rather proponents of a truly egalitarian one, as so many men envisioned before us.

Such people were the founders of our school. People who believed in higher ideals, who served as an ethical bastion is an ever changing world. They, often with great cost to themselves, created a school which surpassed all economic and political groups. An institution where our talents are fostered, which acts as an impetus for the process of ethical and mental growth. With actions like those the Fund Drive, the students are galvanized into volunteerism, allowing them to be productive members of society. The parents of Athens College understood what Sigmund Freud meant when he said “It goes without saying that a civilization which leaves so large a number of its participants unsatisfied and drives them into revolt neither has nor deserves the prospect of a lasting existence”. They created a school which promoted values upon which a healthy society could be built, whose students would serve as role models to all of society.

In a world where apathy is continuously encouraged, we have to persevere. We must resist those who would have this world stay exactly like it is, mired in poverty, crime, self-centeredness and hostility. Be we cannot do this alone. None of us should be forced to, because the world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing, and to quote my favorite poem, “To sin by silence when we must protest, makes cowards out of men”.

The desire to sacrifice an entire lifetime even to the noblest of ideals serves no purpose if one works alone. Organized acts such as volunteerism are the only way to promote true solidarity. We must dissent from the apathy, the indifference, the hatred, not only because we can do better, but because we have no choice but to do better.

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