Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Social activism

We are a society that is beset with multiple social problems like poor access to health and education, rampart corruption, domestic violence, appalling child and women rights, growing substance misuse, welfare of disabled people, rising population of orphans and widows, environmental problems and enduring poverty. Unfortunately despite these problems, there is general lack of earnestness and devotion to volunteer for community work in the society. Sure some sincere people, perhaps appalled by the level of corruption in the society, had in the past initiated voluntary campaigns to fight corruption in the State. They raised awareness about these menaces, which has crept deep into the social fabric of the society, to the extent that is has become socially acceptable to make a living by corrupt means. Their sincere initiative even received good coverage in the local and national media. However, slowly they were demoralized due to wild allegations and castigation by congenitally corrupt people. Instead of amplifying the appreciation for their sincere social activism, these pro-people initiatives were sabotaged by people for whom simple honesty has become incomprehensible and thus abhorrent. It seems criticism and hurling baseless accusations have become our convenient instruments to demoralize people who want to fight against various social menaces prevalent in the society. Has rampart corruption in all activities of daily living turned our souls toxic and polluted our conscience? As a society we should not allow these corrupt milksops to silence honest social activism as they want to maintain our state as commonwealth for corrupt people. Here we are aware that most civilized societies regard voluntary work in high esteem and people who do volunteer are appreciated, valued and even honoured – unlike here in our State where they are castigated. Undeniably such recognition and appreciation encourages people to continue to volunteer for social causes. One of the common motivations in people volunteering, it has been said, is that they feel passionate about a cause and desire to make a difference. Others volunteer for their own personal development as they report becoming more compassionate, concerned and aware about the issues. It is widely recognized that past charity work reflects ones values, character, personality, dedication and good nature. At the same time, volunteerism can have significant health benefits including a positive impact on our mental, social and physical well being. But one wonders if we will realize such health benefits of volunteering in a society like ours where a sincere volunteer has to actually face mental stress due to lack of appreciation, negative criticism, indictments and demoralization. In short volunteering for social causes in our society can be perceived as unrewarding and become a recipe for negative health outcomes for an honest worker! It is important that we recognize and appreciate people who participate in voluntary work as it motivates them to continue doing good work for the community. Not recognizing good work causes demoralization, disillusionment and frustration. Negative stereotyping may cause a sincere person to question their belief in community work, lose interest in social issues and force them to think that their effort is just a waste of time. Appreciating someone’s community work is important, particularly in a volunteer position where the person isn’t receiving financial incentives for their good work. It reminds them that the work they are doing is important and that they are making a difference. In fact there is urgent need to make the work of charities more transparent and accountable by subjecting them to vigorous external annual reviews and audits that can help restore the reputation of this noble human activity in our part of the world. Let us not discourage people from doing their sincere social work. Honest people should be encouraged so that they feel proud about engaging in social and voluntary work without the fear of being admonished for their selfless work. With robust monitoring, transparency and accountability processes in place, interest in volunteerism and social activism can be revived in the young generation to combat various social evils.