Faith | What makes the ‘world go round’? It may be more than love

In 1965 “What the World Needs Now is Love” by Hal David and Burt Bacharach was released, becoming a hit in top 10 charts in this country and Canada.

It is a song with yearnings that reach deep into the heart, with a melody that stays with you through the years, and with lyrics that fill you with a longing for a better world where hate and greed are replaced with love, understanding, and charity.

The timeless chorus if you aren’t already singing it in your head or out loud is:

What the world needs now is love, sweet love. It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of. What the world needs now is love, sweet love. No, not just for some but for everyone.

While there is much sorrow and pain in the world, there is also much that is good. Many people and organizations join hands in meeting the needs of the downtrodden, lonely, and destitute. Many, as Jesus Christ who went about doing good, (Acts 10:38) offer kindness through service and donations throughout the world, and more specifically in our own community.

Did you know there is recent research on the positive effects of service?

Teens ages 11-14 who serve strangers consistently (compared to family members or friends) have higher levels of hope, gratitude, and self-esteem1 as well as lower levels of aggression and delinquency two years later.2 For people aged 50 and older, research shows many benefits in health and well-being as a benefit of volunteering.3

Volunteering, you might say is the new “job” my husband and I have taken on since retiring from teaching school and city government. While we are enjoying time with children and grandchildren and keeping up with overdue home projects, we have found much joy in serving at church and in our community. We have met wonderful people and have seen the great generosity and love that is shared by other volunteers and organizations.

Who needs help?

The list is long — cities, schools, refugees, foster children, food banks, service organizations, the elderly, the ill, the hungry, the disabled, the homeless, a neighbor, a friend, a family member.

As we come together in unity of love to serve others, we feel more the pure love of Christ in our lives for both the receiver and the giver. The more you give, the more you receive. I call it the eternal law of love. A love that generates service and compassion without judgment or recompense.

You might say that love, compassion, and service make the world go round.

Jackie McDonald
Jackie McDonald

During last Christmas season, we witnessed several individuals give to the Salvation Army in Pasco and at the Giving Tree at the Columbia Center mall. Some, who had received help from the Salvation Army as children, came back to give with their own children.

Grandmothers brought their grandchildren to the mall to help them purchase gifts for the Angel Tree. The joy of giving passed on to future generations making an eternal round that begins with God’s love for us (1 John 4:19). We return that love by loving others (1 John 4:21).

This law of love, the Golden Rule, the two greatest commandments, is universal. Whether it be Christianity, Judaism, Islam, or Hinduism, we are all united in our calling to love God and our neighbor, whoever they may be.

1 Fu, X., Padilla-Walker, L. M., and Brown, M. (2017). Longitudinal relations between adolescents’ self-esteem and prosocial behavior toward strangers, friends and family. Journal of Adolescence, 57, 90–98.

2 Padilla-Walker, L. M., Carlo, G., and Nielson, M. G. (2015). Does helping keep teens protected? Longitudinal bidirectional relations between prosocial behavior and problem behavior. Child Development, 86, 1759–1772.

3 E. S. Kim and others, “Volunteering and Subsequent Health and Well-Being in Older Adults: An Outcome-Wide Longitudinal Approach,” American Journal of Preventive Medicine, vol. 59, no. 2, 176–86.

Guest Spiritual Life writer Jackie McDonald serves as a coordinator for in the Pasco area and is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Questions and comments should be directed to editor Lucy Luginbill in care of the Tri-City Herald newsroom, 4253 W. 24th Avenue, Kennewick, WA 99338. Or email