Monday, April 18, 2011

On Fourth Thought--Volunteerism

Like other words, such as blow, queer and gay, and even the rainbow itself, the meanings of volunteer and volunteerism have been hijacked to mean something else.

Many schools require so many hours of "volunteer work" before a person can get the high school diploma. If you are being pushed with such a gun to your head, it is hardly a voluntary act. Of course, graduating at all might be considered voluntary, but these activities are done under duress and the education system knows it. School is now for more than imparting knowledge. It is there to serve meals, modify philosophical beliefs and force people to conform to a very narrow view of what constitutes an adult. Freedom fighters need not apply.

Volunteerism is the condition of doing things under one's own volition, by choice. It is a state of freedom, I would think. The antithesis of slavery.

I think the idea that volunteering to pick up roadside trash or to do whatever is considered civic minded by current standards is more noble than working at the local grocery store and doing a good job, is bunk. There is nothing more noble about it. It is nice that people see fit to make life better for someone else because they want to. But if it becomes a thing of pressuring others, and then calling it volunteerism, I don't buy into that scheme.

Now, it makes sense to force those who littered the road in the first place to clean it up. They were going outside the realm of their rights in that case. I've picked up a few bits of debris myself, but not in any organized clean up day effort--just because I found it annoying and thought I might as well do it. If someone had put a camera in my face and labeled me a civic minded volunteer, I would have done something obscene and then gone home immediately.

As a matter of fact, when such things are required, or funded by tax dollars which some would spend in another way, then I'd say it is actually the opposite of volunteerism. It is extortion.

Ever been pushed to contribute to the United Way or one of those on a job, knowing if you said no it would influence your job status, chances for promotion, and general security? I have. That is neither charity, in the true sense, or really voluntary. That is the old buy or die tactic so popular with organized crime.

That is all.


  1. Forced Volunteerism to make oneself or company look good sucks in my mind...

  2. I think the high point of enforced volunteerism came in about the third day of basic training for the infantry.

    The company commander announced that every company in his past had enjoyed 100% participation in the VOLUNTARY deduction for War Bonds, now known as Savings Bonds.

    Besides, who could POSSIBLY spend the entire $78 per month that we were being paid (before taxes)

  3. After 22 years in the military, I've voluntold hundreds of times.


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