43. Phi Beta Delta: Of Volunteerism

The Indian philosopher Tagore remarked that civilization would be judged by its institutions. Indeed. When we ask about a culture, we want to know what kind of societies it boosts about. Does it have universities and libraries? What kind of social organizations does it have? Are there associations for environment or historic preservation? In short, we want a temperature reading about the state of its volunteerism.

Now, some will argue that by belonging to associations we sacrifice our individuality. That is really not so. Our memberships are an expression of our individualism. For example, we belong to Phi Beta Delta partly because it expresses our conviction that internationalism is fundamental to education. We could hold that belief in solitary, but by belonging we give real, practical witness to it.

Volunteerism is indispensable to a free society. Phi Beta Delta is part of a vast network of voluntary associations that are part of democracy and a helpmate of a healthy culture. Our chapters take their place alongside other groups working for all kinds of causes - open space, disaster relief, alleviation of poverty. We are part of that vast voluntary network that is so important to the health of the countries in which we have chapters.

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