Voluntarism In Action: Rivalries Mean Nothing

Ohio and Michigan. Being an Ohio native myself, I can tell you first hand that a rivalry exists between the two states that harkens back to the Toledo War of the 1830s. Even today, the annual November clash between The Ohio State University and University of Michigan football programs keeps the rivalry alive and well. So, there’s some 80 grain sandpaper in the middle of the relationship between Ohio and Michigan. They’re like neighbors that really only tolerate each other and really appreciate that hedgerow between the properties.

So what does this have to do with voluntary action? Enter the water crisis in Flint, MI. Through a combination of incompetence and neglect on the part of local and state governments, the water supply for Flint became tainted with lead, making it too toxic to consume or use for cooking. Dirty water to any degree is a bad thing but this was an especially bad case of it. The people of Flint obviously needed help.

A little more than 300 miles away, across the Michigan-Ohio border, the students of Shawnee State University organized a water drive to provide clean drinking water to the residents of Flint. As word spread about the drive, it received a flood of help not only from the students and faculty of the university, but also from the entire community of Portsmouth, OH! At the conclusion of the event, the hundreds of cases of water that were collected were loaded onto a U-Haul truck and transported to Flint.

According to a student involved with the organization of the water drive, the consensus opinion in the community was that this kind of crisis could happen anywhere, including their own town. There seemed to be no question whatsoever that they should help.

Hundreds of cases of water were donated to the cause. Those that didn’t donate water gave in other ways such as sanitizing wipes and money. Now let’s take a closer look at this: the effort was led by college students. You can say all you want about college students needing safe spaces (despite the vast majority of that claim being untrue) but many of us know from first hand experience that the typical college student will not find a safe space within their bank account. So it really fascinates me that a group of people who generally don’t have much to begin with would donate so much to a worthy cause.

This story really put a smile on my face as I read about it. As someone from Ohio who understands the turbulent nature of the Ohio-Michigan rivalry, it strikes me as a genuinely beautiful act of humanity to see that rivalry set aside in the name of helping people survive through a difficult time. No one coerced or shamed these students into helping. No one implied that people had any obligation at all to help. They just helped because they believed it was the right thing to do. They didn’t need a governing body to set things in motion for the effort. Sure, it would have been easier to refrain from donating water and simply sign an online petition as Michael Moore would have it. Luckily for Flint, these students thought it would be better to set a fine example of Voluntarism In Action.

An admirer of a wide range of libertarians from Thomas Jefferson to Ron Paul, Aaron Virkler has accepted a very broad range of libertarian views into his life. As an Army veteran, he has seen first hand the wasteful and destructive nature of big government.

* An admirer of a wide range of libertarians from Thomas Jefferson to Ron Paul, Aaron Virkler has accepted a very broad range of libertarian views into his life. As an Army veteran, he has seen first hand the wasteful and destructive nature of big government.

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