AS WE approach the end of the year, we all face challenges.
Before many young people can get to Christmas and the holiday season, they must first face exams. For them, the challenges are perhaps the biggest they have yet to encounter. The spectre of failure and having to resit or re-think their next year is daunting, as is the possibility of not achieving a qualification.
Those with a few more wrinkles contemplate Christmas and a break, but only at the end of a number of orders due, engagements to attend, and targets to meet. It seems all too soon that we have less than a month to tick all these things off.
For some of us there is a round of public engagements to attend, the celebration of another year in an organisation, business, team or school. It is in attending these functions that a glaringly obvious truth presents itself to me; there are a few people who do an awful lot in our community. The same familiar faces are in support of too many projects, charities, pressure groups and events. I can't help but ask the question "where the heck is everyone else?"
For lots of people, the only organisations they belong to are ones which give them something. They belong to a sports club because they want to play sport, or some other enthusiasts group for a particular activity. Meanwhile, many groups based on altruism or service struggle for membership.
My challenge, particularly to young people, is this - do you want to be a spectator or a participant? Or to borrow words from American writer and revolutionary Thomas Paine, "Lead, follow, or get out of the way."
It seems pertinent to raise this as we approach the end of another year in tough economic times. The work of a volunteer costs the country nothing, but its dollar value is astronomical. If we all gave just 10 per cent more to causes and projects aimed at community achievements (and not self-satisfaction), we would make a huge difference.
We just need a few more people who care enough to give a couple of hours per week to help young mums, old mums, kids read, coach sport, pick up rubbish, mentor youth, or build a sandpit. It is not about what you do, or what you get from it, it is about making a contribution.
I don't care if people have a contrary view to me on politics, religion, art, science, barbecuing steak or planting cabbages, but I want them to have a view.
Caring enough to have a view about things that happen, whether big or small, is the first step towards being part of a community.
So what organisations will you join in 2013, and what will that contribute to the community in which you live?