Let’s Stop Wringing Our Hands and Start Rolling Up Our Sleeves!

Rosie the Riveter, an Iconic Image from World War II

Professor Joe Goldblatt

According to the Encylopedia of American Economic HIstory the iconic image of Rosie the Riveter was directly responsible for growing the number of U.S. women in the work force in 1944 from 12 to 20 million to help the World War II effort. This graphic image of a woman rolling up her sleeves and going to work to help the national cause was perhaps one of the most effective advertising campaigns ever created. I believe we need a campaign similar to Rosie the Riveter right now to win the war against our growing national malaise.

This week, the governments of England, Scotland and Wales once again asked my fellow citizens to roll up their sleeves and help prevent the spread of the Omicron variant of the Covoid – 19 virus. To my surprise, once again, many of our citizens began whinging loudly about the additional sacrifices that may be required such as postponing Christmas parties and limiting social interaction to slow the spread of this insidious disease.

The internationally best selling motivational author Dale Carnegie writing in “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living” recalls a woman who came to see him and she appeared to be the most depressed person he had ever met. He listened to her woes and when she finally asked him for help he said “I suggest you find someone who is much worse off than you and then try and help them.” This simple common sense recommendation transformed the woman’s attitude from one of desperation to one of boundless hope. She soon began volunteering at a local homeless shelter and in a few weeks time she was healthier and happier than ever before in her life.

In Scotland it is estimated that over 2 million people annually volunteer to help one another each year. I am one of these people and since my retiral from full time work my volunteer activities have grown exponentially. My volunteer activities range from working in a local neighbourhood Cancer Research UK charity shop selling clothes and knick knacks to serving on several boards and chairing the Edinburgh Interfaith Association.

My volunteer efforts for Cancer Research UK allow me to spend about four hours each week being part of the fund raising team throughout the U.K. that annually raises nearly £600 million to fund life saving research. I am just a very small part of this effort to find a cure for cancer and to find ways to relieve the suffering of cancer patients. However, I like being part of this grand scheme that helps so many people. I also like the social aspect of helping customers in our small shop. Whenever I ring up a new sale, I always invite my customer to make an additional donation by telling them “My job is to help find a cure for cancer and I will appreciate your help.” 9 out of 10 customers positively respond to my invitation.

Each time I walk out of my Cancer Research UK shop or a board meeting I feel as though I have in some tiny way helped practice “Tikkun Olam”. In my Jewish tradition we believe that the world is broken and that each of us is commanded to help repair it through our acts of loving kindness. Therefore, similar to the woman who was deeply depressed, I too find my occassional minor depression that arises from periodic negative set – backs is quickly transformed into hope and joy through my weekly volunteering efforts.

Whether or not we have a new effective graphic similar to Rosie the Riveter for the twenty – first century, I believe many of us have been rolling up our sleeves to not only protect ourselves but also help insure the health of our friends and neighbours. Now, perhaps it is time we roll those same sleeves up a wee bit higher and further to reverse our national malaise with examples of human kindness through voluntering to help others. We may just find that our combined efforts will help one another finally stop worrying and start living once again.

Professor Joe Goldblatt is Emeritus Professor at Queen Margaret University and a serial volunteer in Scotland.

To learn more about his volunteer efforts and other views visit www.joegoldblatt.scot

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