The New Volunteers
19 March, 2015
The New Volunteers
There is a large group of mainly but not entirely young people in Georgia that view their lives in a different way than those that came before them. The group’s arrival has been gradual, its worldview subtle, and it is not easy to discern but I will try to describe it.

They tend to be flexible in terms of whom they identify with. They mistrust labels. They want to try new things and respect new ideas and new ways of
looking at old problems. In general they look forward more than back.


They tend to be flexible in terms of whom they identify with. They mistrust labels. They want to try new things and respect new ideas and new ways of looking at old problems. In general they look forward more than back. They want to make things more than study things and they value deeds more than words. They are willing to try things for no clear self-serving reason. They are unimpressed by and suspicious of older high status institutions and are drawn to newer more flexible less hierarchical institutions. Their organizations tend to be ones where everybody knows what they stand for but nobody is sure who leads them. Like everybody, they want to make some money but have other goals as well, and they are not preoccupied by the perceived status of different jobs. They are open, and the only things they instinctively judge harshly are close mindedness and hypocrisy.
These people tend to react against those who too strongly identify with a team, political or otherwise. They see complete air-tight loyalty to a team or view as a weakness rather than a strength and for this reason tend to be uninterested in politics as it is played out in Georgia, which is very much about competing teams. They will be active, but only about a very practical issue that has meaning to them personally. They are not against politics or political activity; they just find it pointless and funny or sad as it is currently practiced. They hold bickering in contempt.
In the past in Georgia, the status of jobs or institutions was very important. People would take jobs with corrupt pointless institutions for almost no money simply to say they worked there and to have a place to go each day. Then gradually people demanded more or at least some money but would rarely volunteer or work together on new or common projects without pay. This new group tends to be drawn to entities that act rather than talk, those that have clear goals than a clear and visible leadership. They are neither impressed by nor worried about who is the boss. They are not bothered by jobs that were considered low status and are not impressed by jobs that were considered high status.
In the past, people tended to want a job in order to get out of the house and to avoid sitting around with the same people talking about the same people—and for money of course. They were generally happy just to get a different daily location; their expectations were lower. Now they want more than that: They want to make, build and try new things and will look for effort that offers that. They want real community. They will try new things just to see what it is like, if it will work, if it achieves change, but usually change that is very practical, something that can be seen. Interestingly, they are often uninterested in the donor-driven NGO sector and all of its lingo and its confused faddish international vocabulary.
They find each other. It is not that they all dress or look the same but they can identify who is not in their group by those who worry too much about how they themselves and others look. Many have traveled or lived abroad, speak other languages, and they welcome non-Georgians into their groups. They tend to meet in places in locations that are not the most popular; but that are beautiful and cheap. Donor and government paid-for events in expensive hotel venues are not their style.
There are not enough of them to be a politically powerful demographic but they do tend to influence politics more than other similarly sized groups, and gradually their numbers are swelling. The current political structure has no real way to inspire or channel their attention. But at some point in the future, they themselves will become a social and eventually a political force and will lead to realignment of Georgian society. The only question is when.

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