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The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

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The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Jensen-Coon: Volunteering is All About Love

Matt Gubler
Photos of the Bennion Center of the University of Utah on April 10, 2018. Matt Gubler

We often hear that doing something more for others is important and can help you feel better. I wholeheartedly agree with that sentiment. While researching the psychological effects of volunteering, however, I found an interesting study supporting the idea that volunteering is only beneficial for those who value people. This notion intrigued me.

In the study, a researcher looked at cynicism, stressful events and volunteering. They controlled for other factors, like health, that could affect these results. They found those with higher levels of cynicism did not gain lower levels of stress from volunteering. The reverse is true for those with less cynicism. Thus, serving others can enhance someone’s life, but is contingent upon the belief that helping others is meaningful.

Regardless of belief, those who volunteer experience more benefits because of their sacrifice for others. It does make sense that volunteers who appreciate people benefit more because they feel a sense of pride in their actions. If those who do not value people are forced into volunteering, it might even lead to resentment, only furthering their devaluation of people.

I believe a new way of helping, loving and cherishing our fellow citizens needs to be established. It’s a tough task. How do we help foster love? If not sacrifice, then what will help people believe in their fellow man and change their mindsets?

Having a mindset that recognizes helping one another as necessary becomes vital for our survival. Humans love to congregate and work together, though we sometimes struggle with symbiosis. When something bad happens, we know there is strength in numbers and we should rely on each other. Wars are fought and won in a testament to this idea.

In my mind, it was the strife, the sacrifice and the circumstances that brought people in the military together to build a reliance on one another. No payment could eliminate the cynicism that could plague a mind during a war, so there must be something else occurring to create that bond. Perhaps it is when life or death is on the line.

I refuse to believe that only when a life is at risk can everyone have a desire to help one another. Those men and women in our military currently fighting for our lives must have an immense amount of hope and faith that what they are doing is worthwhile and creating change.

I believe hope and faith are the answers to this perplexing question. We must find a way to establish these two principles in our own societies and, hopefully, it will then spread to a worldview. Perhaps some think I am a dreamer or silly for thinking this is possible, but seeing the bright side of bringing hope and faith is the first step to spreading them. As Desmond Tutu said, “Hope is being able to see that there is the light despite the darkness.” If you think volunteering is worthwhile, perhaps now is the time to volunteer your own hope and faith to influence those around you. In turn, you will help create a better world.

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