Home > Opinion > Journey asks Greg Mackay: Why do you volunteer?

Journey asks Greg Mackay: Why do you volunteer?

WE LIVE in a world of opposites; opposites of opportunity, hope, and life itself.

For many of us, and certainly for me, my life lived is a life blessed. And so it is for almost all of my family members, friends, and colleagues.

But for many others, for the majority world, for many, many of our fellow citizens it is decidedly not like that. So how can I sit by and watch?

This is an ethical question emerging from my Christian beliefs and my desire to try to put my faith into action.

Volunteering for me is about doing justice and justice requires us to stand in solidarity with those not getting a fair go.

I chair a small unfunded community organisation. We teach people about, and support them in, the way our society marginalises and rejects people and then how they might do something about this.

This rejection includes people with a disability, aged people, people of Indigenous descent, people seeking refuge and many others.

As well as practical work like this, standing in solidarity has many other forms.

I strive to be informed on matters of justice; being informed means I am less able to ignore people’s struggles. And of course once one is informed one feels compelled to act.

I take my place in public protests, in writing and lobbying, but also in gently asking to enter people’s lives, inviting them to enter mine.

Through this forming of relationships I am privileged to gain a sense of what people experience every day, the persistence of rejection, racism, marginalisation, being discounted; I get to stand in their shoes – but get to return to my privileged live.

After all, it is privileged people who live in the luxury of being able to try to change the world.

Greg Mackay is the Director of the UnitingCare Centre for Social Justice