Today is the UN's International Volunteering Day. What's your contribution?
One of the more appropriate of our packed calendar of celebratory "days" is the UN's International Volunteering Day - which is today (December 5th). Here's their blurb for this year:
IVD 2017’s theme #VolunteersActFirst. Here. Everywhere. recognizes the contributions of volunteers as first responders in times of crisis. Volunteers are present, all around us, answering calls in times of need, helping save lives today, and supporting those who want to continue living their lives with dignity tomorrow. Risking their lives every day to care for people affected by conflict, violence and humanitarian crises, volunteers brave many dangers to help others, driven by the desire to make a difference in the face of human suffering. This year, IVD promotes the contributions of such volunteers at the local, national and international level.
So much can be said about the socially-essential qualities of volunteering. A Google News search on Volunteering UK shows a vast range of activities, benefitting both the served and the volunteer. It's one of the great arguments for Basic Income - that it could provide people with enough distance from work pressures that they could embark on more volunteering in their lives.
Volunteering runs on what psychologists call "intrinsic" rather than "extrinsic" motivation - it's an action we are internally compelled to do, rather than externally commanded to do so.
Our friend from Dark Matter Labs Indy Johar has just written another polemic on how "intrinsic motivation" should be the real foundation of our future economies. In such a world, the line between "volunteering" and "being enterprising" begins to fade:
The inequality we see around us is an inequality of autonomy, an inequality of purposefulness, an inequality of agency. This is an inequality where intrinsic organisation is a privilege of the few and extrinsic organisation applied to the many.
But this more than a moral challenge — it's also a challenge of how we organize in a complex and emergent world. A world which by necessity needs decentralized, distributed agency and innovation to address the wicked challenges we face.
We must break free from the long arm of extrinsic organisation and instrumentalisation, breaking free from feudalism and imperialism in its many forms – including the silent violent rhetoric of neoliberalism. For there can be no free market without free citizens and a free society, built predominantly on intrinsic organisation.