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The Forum > Article Comments > The motivation behind doing it for free > Comments

The motivation behind doing it for free : Comments

By Russ Grayson, published 15/5/2006

A need to 'prove themselves' and a need to prove their worth are key drivers for volunteers.

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I did not read the original article but certainly, if I had, I would have protested strongly. This article is more objective, but not positive where it talks about games volunteers wanting status.

There are many things which come to mind.

What is the problem if Commonwealth Games volunteers choose to do so. People are free and quite capable of making their own judgements.

Volunteering is an expression of freedom. This sort of debate is approprate for allocated of taxed moneies, which is compulsory.

Every volunteer is a citizen, a contributor to civil society.

Volunteers! wear your shirts, or don't wear them. Tell everyone or tell no-one. It's your life, your decision.

The idea that altuism does not exist is one of the most abhorent and pesimistic descriptions of the human condition. I have assume all people will behave in an alturistic fashion, unless strong evidence to the contrary becomes apparent. People are flawed, make mistakes, become addicted, are persuaded ect...

Sports are non-political and attractive for that reason. Humanitarian work is seen as having a political basis, which is a shame as such organisations strive to be non-political.

There is no need to compare between volunteers who do humanitarian work or who do sporting work eg coaching. Better that these people exist and are prepared to and make time to help. Who dares to create a sense of inequality or class between volunteers?

It's not the 20,000 who volunteer for one event, but the millions who volunteer for none.

Humanitarian work overseas is extremely challenging, not suited to all, especially some of those who are older. Nevertheless there are now 20,000 Australians have now experience volunteering (assuming they were not already). The only question is how to keep up the good work, extend the capacity of volunteers to other situations.

The above is not a coherent argument, but hopefully clearly in support of volunteering in every field. If you reading this, but are not a volunteer in something, then GET A LIFE! You are missing out.
Posted by David Latimer, Monday, 15 May 2006 1:04:44 PM
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Why do I volunteer? A meditation teacher/psychologist/counsellor I know calls me a natural “server”, someone inclined to serve others rather than primarily seeking self-gratification. Most of my life I’ve done paid, non-volunteer work, but with the volition of helping others, of helping the community, the world, through what I do rather than focusing on self-advancement. As an economist, for example, I was concerned to clearly understand issues, apply rigorous analysis to find and evaluate potential solutions, and seek to promote wider community benefit rather than sectional vested interests.

I’ve also done unpaid work, primarily but not entirely 30 years of helping to organise and run Vipassana meditation courses and centres, including several years as a “Dhamma bum” with little or no paid work. In the course of this, I met people such as S N Goenka and Achaan Cha who epitomise selfless service, devoting their wisdom, compassion and energy to helping others, without thought for themselves, without seeking any kind of ego-satisfaction.

All Vipassana courses and centres in Goenka’s tradition are taught and run by volunteers. The volition of the server, the volunteer, is crucial. Only those who have done at least one ten-day Vipassana course and maintained their practice thereafter may give service. The path is one of purification, and pure volition is required. Goenka practised and gave service for 14 years before becoming a teacher, and many of his assistant teachers have had apprenticeships of similar length, always at least several years, many courses and much service, before being authorised to conduct courses. I gave up serving after several years of serious illness, not just because of limited physical and mental capacity but because I had been unable to practice sufficiently to ensure the purity of my volition.

So there may be a bit more to volunteers and volunteering than appears in Russ’s article – as David’s post also suggests.

(PS: the above includes some years in and around India as well as Australia, Europe and the USA.)
Posted by Faustino, Monday, 15 May 2006 1:42:22 PM
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I wish there could be a bit more debate about the misuse of volunteers. I agree that the altruism of volunteers is probably the basis of building social capital in a community. However when governments become involved in directing volunteers through various front agencies I can see a level of cynicism developing. One example is Clean-up Australia. Not that they are a front agency or through much fault of their own, but CUA must be concerned that volunteers face the inequity and absurdity of collecting discarded containers that fetch a 5 cent deposit in South Australia. And have done for many years now. Some of the Federal Government's manipulations in the environmental area are open to question too. For example the use of volunteers to fix degradation problems on private land at little or no cost to the landowner fly in the face of recommendations from their own advice bodies such as the Productivity Commission which supports the 'user-pays' principle in most cases.
Posted by jup, Tuesday, 16 May 2006 1:00:12 AM
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Sadly I think he has a point. People often do care about the cause strongly but human nature being what it is that ids replaced by back biting and egos. I have seen that also in Parliment so i guess its with all of us.
Thats not to say they are not some great ones but those are the people we never get to hear about.
Sadly he is correct.
Posted by Wendy Lewthwaite, Tuesday, 16 May 2006 4:43:13 AM
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