The Joy of Volunteering


Dietrich Fischer – TRANSCEND Media Service

In kindergarten, our teacher once asked us if we would like to help our janitor carry a pile of firewood into the basement of our school building, where she needed it to heat the building early every winter morning.  We all enthusiastically agreed.  We stood in line, waiting for our turn, and each one said,

Please give me more, I am strong.”

Then we carried the bunch on our arms into the basement, and ran back as quickly as possible to get more.  When we finished, the janitor, a little elderly lady, thanked us, and we were happy and proud, feeling good that we had been able to help her.

Children see work that they are able to do as a pleasure. Only later, the thought is instilled in them that they should refuse to work unless they are paid for it.

The Inuits of Alaska used to help each other freely and with joy whenever someone needed help with building or repairing something. Then came the Exxon Valdez oil spill and Exxon hired Inuits at $16 per hour to help clean up the oil spill on the shore. After that, if someone needed help, they asked,

“How much are you going to pay me?”


Dietrich Fischer (1941-2015) from Münsingen, Switzerland, got a Licentiate in Mathematics from the University of Bern 1968 and his Ph.D. in Computer Science from New York University 1976. Fischer was a MacArthur Fellow in International Peace and Security at Princeton University 1986-88, has taught mathematics, computer science, economics and peace studies at various universities, and been a consultant to the United Nations. He was co-founder, with Johan Galtung, of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment in 1993.

Excerpted from Dietrich Fischer’s Stories to Inspire You – TRANSCEND University Press-TUP.


This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 19 Apr 2021.

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