Youth and Social Work

Remember this famous Pankaj Kapoor dialogue? ’Apne badan pe chot lage toh janwar bhi rota hai, insaan woh hai jo doosre ki chot ko mehsoos kar sake’. This iconic dialogue from the movie, Halla Bol — if you think about it — is the crux of the present article. Of course, if your Hindi is not up to par (or you are an English native), the dialogue when loosely translated in the global lingua franca (aka English), means: ‘Even an animal cries over the wounds of its body; but a human IS someone who can feel and share someone else’s pain’!

Social Work

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The implication of the dialogue is simple: simply by virtue of being a human, we are supposedly held to a higher standard of virtue and morality. Thus, while it may be a dog-eat-dog world out there, the truth is…we as humans just cannot give in to our cannibalistic tendencies (and I am not just talking cuisine).

Of course, while it is easy to dream of utopia…creating it…is a whole different ballgame. After all, how do you teach ‘empathy’ to a society that is increasingly becoming self-centered and narcissistic in its pursuits of trivial carnal pleasures. Though the real unfortunate part is that…it IS the society itself that propagates the belief that it is those immaterial material gains that will measure a man’s success. [Note: In fact, I can bet you too have encountered these braggarts in your family…close uncles and aunts bragging about the “BIG FAT” pay package of your supposedly “superior” cousins.]

What’s truly amazing is how fallacious is this belief?!? If material gains was what brought happiness and contentment to people, why is it that the society is increasingly becoming more and more depressed? In fact, according to psychologists, the society is virtually trapped in the throes of a depression epidemic. It has become so severe a problem that it is rightfully called the “PLAGUE” of Modern Times. It seems more odd when you look at the paradox of the human race: it is people living in wealthier and prospering nations who are less happy and more depressed than those in poorer ones.

In fact, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), worldwide depression is the leading cause of disability for people…and guess who tops the list when it comes to depression? If you are thinking India, congratulations…you are bang on target. As reported by The Independent (UK), India recorded the highest rate of major depression in the world, at 36 per cent. I know what you’re thinking: “But we are a developing economy…we aren’t developed yet!” Well…you are right there…however, it is the unprecedented social and economic change — that has enveloped our great big nation — which has brought severe depression in its wake.

Of course, before you become too depressed about depression (please pardon the “depressing” pun), the good news is there is an easy solution! You just need something to fill the void. You simply need to give meaning to your otherwise empty life. And YOU need to become and act like a human [That’s right… “Being Human” is not just a punchline]! Thus, the answer is elegantly simple: Social Work!

Social work is, actually, a sine qua non of a happy and healthy life. If you think that that answer is too simple…let me introduce you to a “psychological” phenomenon called the ‘Helper’s High’, which is a literal “high” (similar to a drug-induced high) when you help someone else.

In fact, did you know people who help others (through social work and social engagement) actually live longer and healthier lives? In fact, according to recent research, helping others is imperative for our mental and physical well-being.  It not only makes us happy (through the release of “happy” hormones like endorphins and oxytocin), it actually helps in weight control, blood pressure management, and relief from depression and chronic pain.

This, in fact, is especially true for kids, teenagers, and youth. After all, research indicates that youth which displays altruistic motivation tends to be three times happier than those who lead individualistic (and narcissistic) lives. They also tend to be happier, more active, involved, excited and engaged than their less engaged peers. In fact, young people who volunteer and participate in social work are less likely to fail a subject in school or college, get pregnant, or become a drug addict. They are also more socially competent and have a higher self-esteem.

Hence, social work has a much stronger effect than exercising four times a week. In fact, forget about doing social work, scientists have found that even “thinking” about charity and social work can trigger the release of oxytocin and vasopressin – making you happy and content.

Thus, the only way to rescue humans is to once again rouse their humanity. So that instead of becoming the dog that perpetually chases its own tail, we can become the humans that we were meant to be!

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