“What are we looking for when we donate/volunteer?”
I’ve found that this is a hard, hard question to ask. Because it presumes we’re looking for something for ourselves in the exchange, and the answer may put us on the defensive/feeling vulnerable since it gets to the core of who we are inside + how we relate to & view other people of different socioeconomic classes/backgrounds, etc.
Obviously, depending on who you’re talking to, this question gets different reactions. Jean Valjean from Les Miserables might be looking for redemption. For one girl I met a few weeks ago, who survived the Darfur genocide and founded a nonprofit, she is looking to be a part of a bigger fight for justice, protection, and opportunity. Another guy I met at that same conference who works in advocacy is at least partially fueled by a desire for security- that what happened to his grandfather at Auschwitz won’t happen to his grandkids. Many of various belief systems do this in search of salvation, or as an expression of gratitude for their salvation. And others: moral urgency, a desire to seek purpose, a sense of knowing that we are a speck in the universe (#damndaniel is probably more famous than you at the moment), reminded daily by the billions on the Internet, and we want to feel we’ve done something impactful in our lives by the time we die. So, tons of reasons. Your answer strongly influences (obviously) the way in which you approach helping others.
This is the part of my post where it gets less ‘feel good’ –