Responding to Societal Problems
In the face of adversity, the ability to dig deep and come up with a strategy for handling a difficult situation is seen over and over again in individuals and across society. Government programs have been created to help individuals and families over the decades, including:
WPA — gave jobs to the unemployed during the Great Depression
Welfare— supports poor mothers with no other income
Social security— supports older and disabled Americans who cannot work
Medicare/Medicaid— provides medical care payments for older or poor Americans
Other initiatives, either private or public, have been undertaken to facilitate people giving their time to those who need help, both in this country and internationally. Among some of the better known are:
Habitat for Humanity:
Doctors Without Borders:
Each of these is an example of resources available to those in need. They also furnish structured opportunities for those who want to offer a helping hand.
Working closely with people suffering a hard-core need such as hunger can educate the volunteer about the root issues behind the problem. The person being helped has as much to give by sharing the experience of her need with the person offering assistance. She is an expert in the topic of her need.
Government programs are broad, encompassing great swaths of the population. Service organizations offer individuals the chance to meaningfully contribute to alleviating suffering, improving skills, or providing basic human needs like food, shelter, or health care.
You and your compatriots are more than likely going to be the architects of entirely new ways of responding to social problems, bringing fresh views and an abundance of “can-do” energy to the task of conquering stubborn issues like homelessness — and more recent horrors like the spread of AIDS. You are accustomed to breaking the rules, thinking outside the box, doing it your way. You're not going to stop seeking better ways now.