Thursday, December 01, 2005

Misplaced Enthusiasm?

A few days back I met one of the enthusiastic volunteers of this society - who are doing good work for the underprivileged kids in India. They were hosting an event and wanted to put up a poster in our department. Fair enough - I directed her to one of the all purpose student post it boards. But that was probably not enough visibility for her - so she wanted to paste it in places mostly used for academic activity and hence more prominent. I objected - politely pointing out that this is exactly not something connected with the academic activity of the department. Then she came up with this amazing statement , " but its (substitute the name of the organization)". I should appreciate her devotion to the noble cause of trying to make a difference. While I may or may not feel that is indeed the right way of achieving some result , thats beside the point. But what I find simply audacious is the attitude of since-I-think-I-am doing-something-great-for-the-humanity-you-should-think-like-that-too.

This is by no means an isolated example. Whenever a natural calamity happened - we were pestered by "volunteers" , who came in all shapes and colors. While their effort to help out the distressed folks was laudable - but to force people by saying stuff like why they are drinking a Pepsi rather than donating was not. Does donation not imply a "voluntary contribution"?

Or think about the spam mails I receive oh so often asking me to donate for some terminally ill kid. While most of them are hoax mails , as a simple sanity check would tell anyone , should not people ever think before populating the forward to field with all his contacts? Did he donate? In all probability no. So why send it to a hundred other people who would not probably do anything about that except hitting the delete (or forward) button either? Is it a kind of self gratification to show people that "I care"?

Its great if you are doing something worthwhile. If you are sincere , and want to spread the word , do it in a way that respects other people's sentiments , not by trying to create a social pressure. Don't try to make people feel they are worthless if they are not getting as involved. People have different priorities , and unless you can appreciate that , I get a feel you are more concerned about satisfying your bloated ego rather than actually caring for humanity.

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