Volunteerism against radicalism: Part II

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I am a great believer in an equal playing field where rights are enforced so that everybody can have a fair chance of succeeding in life. Opportunities are equally important. Rights only can be detrimental as you can see in the Middle East where millions of youth have their basic rights ensured (for example their access to mass universities) but then have no ways out at the end of their mediocre but universal education. With political rights denied or strongly curtailed, with no jobs, they hit the streets in the spring revolutions or join Islamic militant groups.

Migration is often a way out to a better life but it is often an impossible or very risky option.

Extremism and radicalism, as we have seen, have multiple forms of manifestation, all offering possible ways out of alienation, frustration and vulnerability. They offer negative opportunities of self-empowerment.

Then if the problem is the lack of positive opportunities, how can  society bring remedies to this situation? How can we harness new platforms of positive self-empowerment?

How can we counterattack the existing opportunities to join extremism or radical behavioral groups expressed and channeled either through faith, sport or political participation?

Surely better living conditions would be of great help but we are talking about negative agencies getting strengthened in the context of vulnerability and alienation but not absolute poverty as the situation shows in Europe.

Enhanced employability opportunities with better pay conditions can certainly help stem the tide toward radicalism but this might not be enough.

Can volunteerism and service actually be of help to offer alternatives to radical and extreme behaviors?

We all know that volunteerism and service, the latter referring to a much broader form of “help” that can also encompass paid social work and community organizing, are all about a give and take. Here I would like to stress the “take” dimension.

Volunteerism and service can help you make your life full. They can fulfill your emptiness by giving you an inner strength called personal satisfaction. With satisfaction comes a renowned purpose of life.

In short by being satisfied, you feel better, you suddenly rediscover a role in  society.

By volunteering you are able to reposition yourself within  society; new horizons full of opportunities can arise for you.

Hard to describe and quantify the value in terms of positive change being created from such intangible assets like volunteerism and service that are also offering a pathway forward, a platform of personal and professional growth.

It is a pity that still few understand the importance for the society at large to have a mass movement of youth with instilled sense of service and solidarity.

Should governments do more to instill this new ethics of service within youngsters and society at large?

How can the role of education be harnessed to offer new sources of inspiration through learning and serving opportunities?

How immediate and urgent is the need to reformulate our curricula to ensure that values of respect, help and solidarity are fully embedded in the way  new generations are educated and raised?

Position: Co -Founder of ENGAGE,a new social venture for the promotion of volunteerism and service and Ideator of Sharing4Good

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