Nov 27, 2011

Community spirit alive and well

What I admire most about Aussie society, is the sense of community and spirit of volunterism.

Whether at school or at church, I've never known a call for help to go unanswered. They might not know how to do the job well but if they have an inkling and two able hands, they volunteer.

Everyone gives their time for something - and not just retirees or 'housewives'. Hubby's collegue (he works for a MNC) is a volunteer firefighter on weekends. Another fellow he meets on the train some mornings coaches basketball. Some services are run entirely by volunteers!

We witnessed a community-driven project in the shape of Number One's school fair. Organising one - from finance to marketing to operations to setup - is a massive undertaking, and I was agape at all the work.

But at the end of spring fair day, I realised I had seen the Aussie community spirit in the flesh, materialised from the sweat, toil, goods and money of the community. I said to Hubs, "We 'own' a part of this fair. I have two bottles of wine at the lucky draws, and used books at the book stall, the tents are up thanks to your brawn and I supplied labour at the food stall."

The notion of giving up so much energy for - why, nothing! - is a novel concept for me, and a beautiful one I am embracing. But for such endeavours to flourish, the structure of society must support it, and not all societies are blessed with this. For one, the bottom layers of Maslow's hierachy of needs have to be satisfied. People struggling to put bread on the table or create their financial safety nets don't tend to priortitise offering up free labour.

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