10 Bad Reasons to Become a Volunteer or Why Selfishness Has No Place in Volunteering

prideMy intent is not blame people for bad intentions when they volunteer but to have people think about why they volunteer and change their perspective on what they are doing. While too many people are volunteering for the wrong reasons if we think about and reevaluate our reasons we can become better volunteers

Here are  10 bad reasons to become a volunteer

1. To show how good a person I am.
2. To practice my leadership skills
3. To add skills to my CV (resume)
4. Because the volunteers I have seen aren’t doing a good Job
5. Because it is my civic duty to volunteer
6. Because all my friends do
7. Because it makes me a better person
8. Because my faith says I have to
9. Because the court said I have to do community service
10. Because my Mom or Dad did.

While many of the bad reasons to volunteer above look like really good reasons to volunteer a good number of them will make you a bad volunteer.

Volunteering is all about commitment to service and as you can see many of the reasons above are totally unrelated to commitment.

Let’s look at each one individually.

1. To show how good a person I am.

This is a reason that we all use but don’t admit to. No one wants to be seen as an unconcerned person and volunteering, whether it be with a charity or with a church or faith group, is one way to show how concerned and how kind we are. The problem here is charity or service is best done to benefit the community and the reward should be how you feel after doing it. You don’t need anyone to tell you that you did something good. You should feel that inside, and that is your reward. This is true of many of the 10 ten reason above. If you are volunteering to benefit you, you are volunteering for the wrong reason. This does not mean you should stop but you should adjust your thinking and make your volunteering for others first. Try doing something for others and keep your name out of the outcome. Work for a soup kitchen but ask the organization not to publish your name as a volunteer and when they say thank-you say “No, thank you” because your reward should be the feeling you get from knowing you did something good.

If you can’t volunteer without wanting people to know about it you are being selfish. Sure if you get known for your work in the community that is fine and no crime, but if that is your reason you are doing it for the wrong reason. Selfishness has no place in volunteering. You should volunteer because you know it is right to do so not for any expectation of reward, even if the reward is recognition. More often than not when I get a citation or an award I feel I don’t deserve it. People tell me this is the wring response but sorry they are wrong this is exactly how you should feel. Why because there are always better people out there. There are always more things you can do and my reward should be knowing I did my best to do the right thing not the plaque on the wall or the pin or the certificate.  I did not know my Uncle Vern was a Cub scout leader until his name appeared in the Scouting life magazine obituaries.  I also did not know that he stayed on as a Cub leader when his kids were well into their 30s and 40s. That is the way to volunteer, to do it with advertising it to do it just because it is the right thing to do.

2. To practice my leadership skills

While there is nothing wrong with taking a leadership role in an organization and it is important that people that have natural leadership tendencies will put them to good use this should not be your reason to volunteer. Why? Because most volunteer groups work as a team. The best volunteer organizations are democratic in nature. The best attitude to come into volunteering is how can I contribute to the group. Again to come in assuming that you will take control as you are a natural leader is a mistake. Most volunteer organizations will recognise natural leadership and you very well might be promoted to a leadership role but if you don’t then to get upset is another selfish response. If you don’t feel your leadership abilities are being used then you have the right to leave, and if you think that you should be the one in charge you need to consider that you might again be volunteering for selfish reasons and as I mentioned selfishness has no place in volunteering.

3. To add skills to my CV (resume)

I won’t spend a lot of time on this because again it is related to what I have just said. Volunteering does ad skills to your CV and yes I list some of my volunteering on my CV. However this is a benefit of volunteering and definitely should never be the reason you volunteer. I had one cub scout that never sewed his badges on his sash but he had them all. I also had another that kept trying to get me to give him new badges that he hadn’t quite earned. The one I respected was the one that didn’t find the badges themselves important but put out the effort to earn them.

4.Because the volunteers I have seen aren’t doing a good Job

This actually can be a good reason to volunteer BUT it depends on the person using it. Arrogance is a deadly sin in volunteering. Remember that for every volunteer you criticise there will be 10 people like you ready to criticise your volunteer work. That said each and every person that volunteers even for bad reasons like we have been talking about here is better than those that won’t volunteer for selfish reasons. In volunteering you must respect the volunteers you work with or those that came before if you don’t then you need to remember there will be people just like you looking back at the “Bad Job” you did. Respect is crucial in volunteering.

5. Because it is my civic duty to volunteer

This one I disagree with fully there should be no civic duty to volunteer. Why because if your heart isn’t in it if you are doing it because you are told you must you might as well be a machine programmed to do good. Volunteering must be done because you WANT to do it not because you feel you must do it. I know I have to tend my yard to mow the lawn pull the weeds this will keep the neighbours from complaining. That said If I want my neighbourhood to look good I will go one step farther I will pull the weeds mow the lawn plant flowers paint the fence and sweep the walk. Duty only takes you so far it is a desire to make things better that makes you exceed your capabilities.

6. Because all my friends do

The simple answer to this one is that riding on the good intentions of your friends is just wrong. While it is nice to socialise as a volunteer this is a benefit of volunteering not a reason to volunteer. Sure go ahead but also keep in mind that in order to be a good volunteer you need to go beyond just doing it because your friends are. I have seen to many people quit a group once their friends leave and to me this just shows that you really did not care about the organization you were volunteering for.

7. Because it makes me a better person

This is true but again it is a reward not a reason. I keep saying this but volunteering should be to benefit others not our selves.

8. Because my faith says I have to

Most faiths have some edict that compels the faithful to do acts of kindness. The problem is the rule should not be the reason. In the Christian faith one of the highest callings is to act selflessly like Christ. To give everything with out expectation of reward. In this faith the reason to volunteer or to give to the poor and help others is because you are to become like Christ to be selfless. The reason you should do as your faith tells you is because you believe in it because you know that helping others is right, not simply because you are told to.

9. Because the court said I have to do community service

First of all people call this volunteering I don’t , and people in this situation are actually not volunteers and can drag down a volunteer group. This is something I have always disagreed with while I think some people benefit from being forced to do community service in general it is a waste of time. The Lions Club I volunteered for had one good and on bad experience with community service kids. One kid that had to do community service was just a bad kid he was not sorry for what he did he did the bare minimum of work and in the end came back one night and robbed the place. The other kid we had felt sorry for what he did (stole his moms car) he did a good job and I hired him for other jobs. The thing is community service does not make a bad kid a good kid it just stops good kids from getting worse. Most times by the time kids or adults get to the point of being given community service, to a large degree they are beyond the point were it will actually help them.

10. Because my Mom or Dad did.

This one sounds good but if you are doing volunteer work because you believe in the values of community service that your parents did then fine, but if is to please them then you are missing what they tried to teach you.

The Trouble with Atheism and Those that Hate it.

The other day I was discussing the idea that atheism in some people can be considered a religion. I noted that People like atheists Richard Dawkins and Ellen Johnson, the president of American Atheists. Are proof of this. Why fight religion so vehemently unless you find it a threat? A threat to what? Your beliefs I suppose, and if a belief is held so firmly can it not be considered a religion?

Another Christian Friend of mine suggested I watch The Trouble with Atheism, a UK documentary  presented by Rod Liddle The documentary focuses on criticizing atheism for its perceived similarities to religion, as well as arrogance and intolerance. Now while this sounds like a good idea I read the Wikipedia summary of it and unfortunately Liddle takes on Atheists at the logical level as the summary states “Liddle argues against a perceived over reliance on “cold logic” and the amoral scientific method.” If you read my posting on “high Heels on Children” you know my position on the Scientific method. I believe it to be the basis of all real scientific learning. Yes it is amoral that is why it works for science. Does it work for religion no. Why because you can’t systematically observe, measure,  experiment, on and create a hypotheses on a concept like God.

Now if anyone has actually seen this documentary correct me if I am wrong but once you start making a soup out of food and rocks you get something inedible. Pardon the Metaphor but I have always tried to avoid mixing science and religion as proof or disproof of either. Why? Because science is not far enough advanced to disprove God, and Religion is not advanced enough to explain life in the way science does. Also science is a tool to better our knowledge and religion is a tool to tell us how to live better lives as humans. Both have been doing this primary job for long enough to be relatively good at it but when one tries to do the other they fail. While I think that a psychiatrist can help me with my day to day problems I tend to lean towards my faith for how I should treat others.

Would I want pure science using the scientific method to tell me how to treat others, definitely not especially when you have people like Richard Dawkins that believe that selfishness is an underlying scientific principle in his work the Selfish Gene he argues that genes that get passed on are the ones whose consequences serve their own implicit interests. While he is not advocating selfish behaviour he is advocating that selfishness is natural. (See my previous posting for my position on Selfish v selflessness.)  While he may not be arguing that we should be selfish in this way he is trying to point out how The Christian religion is wrong in advocating selfishness on a global scale Dawkins would only see it as within similar genetic groups. If you follow the logic involved competition pre-programmed by our genes (not by will) is what drives evolution not randomness. On the other side religion tends to try to mix science and religious texts to prove their scriptures. The worst example of this is in some of the teachings on intelligent design like  what you see at the Big Valley Creation Museum in Alberta where you can see some of the planets worst science as they attempt to “refute any unguided, ‘natural’ processes such as evolution” and claim to have a genealogy chart that traces the British royal family to Adam and Eve, Mixing science and religion as far as I can see it creates both bad science and bad religion.

Thus I have scrubbed The trouble with Atheism off my viewing list.

God’s WBS

I am currently studying Project Management (PM), and I have noticed that PM can be as complex as the project itself at times. The best way to attack a project is it find the mid point between a church basement bake-sale and a NASA expedition. Then alter the requirements to suit your project. But you have to begin by simplifying it into something management can understand.
What can we apply Project management to, well here is a cool way to look at project management.
If God were to create a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) for creation after 1.0 level AKA – EVERYTHING, what would be his/her second level activities (AKA 2.0 level activities)
WBS for Everything

2.1 Ball of light
2.2 Atomic Nuclei Form
2.3 Atoms Form
2.4 Galaxies and Stars Form
2.5 Vacuum Energy Dominates
2.6 Today Happens

The following graphic is the best example

How would the plan describe these initial activities I think Neil Turok said it best.
“Imagine a perfect ball of light, just a millimetre across. It is the brightest, most intense light you can possibly conceive of… Now imagine the ball of light expanding, faster than anything you have ever seen or can imagine. Within one second, it is a thousand light years across. It didn’t get there by the light and particles travelling outwards in an explosion — nothing can travel that fast. Instead, the space inside the ball expanded.”
– Neil Turok explaining the hot big bang theory in ‘The Universe Within: From Quantum to Cosmos’

For more info on how God did it go to the Perimeter Institute – Outreach Facebook page. http://www.facebook.com/pioutreach

That said the final product is an arbitrary choice and I am not claiming that like projects that have a limited time period with a beginning and an end that Everything must end. The project continues 🙂

Rednecks, Violence, Pacifism, Rationalism and Christianity

Or what I learned from a JERK in a truck

The problem with life lessons is being able to see the lesson in the situation.One day I was turning right out of a parking area and there was a truck to my left so I could not see on coming traffic. The jerk behind me thought that my caution was slowness so he kept pounding on his horn. I was thinking sorry jerk but I don’t risk my life for rednecks in pick-ups (especially those with attitudes). So I flung him the bird (gave him the finger) and drove away when it was safe to do so. Yes I tend to react with emotion first, this is not wise when you consider I am a pacifist. This Jack Ass then follows me for three blocks and pulls in behind me when I go to stop. He says “if you give some one the finger you should be ready to back it up, with action” I tell him my side of the story that I am not about to risk my ass for his redneck carcass (not in those words) especially not violent rednecks like him. I also tell him that I am about as likely to fight him over this trivial spat as I am to have monkeys fly out of my butt. Personally I wish he would take more dumb risks as it would seem only a tough lesson would shake him into realization that turning into traffic with out seeing it would be STUPID. The big problem is that this jerk was threatening to beat the crap out of me with his 7 year old son in the cab of his truck. Oh Yeah Teach them early that violence works, so they can grow up to be thugs and wife abusers. (If violence was the by-product of insults then parliament would need referees and ropes around it.) I was ignoring his threats for two reasons, one I try not to fight with some one that has biceps bigger than my thighs, and two if he attempted to follow me and strike me (there were spectators) I could have his ass thrown in Jail and that would feel soooo good. However the service guy at the car dealer came running out to tell this redneck that he had just called the police and the jerk left without incident. Damn I was looking forward to charging him with assault. I grew up in a pacifist household my mother was very much against fighting, guns and violence of any sort, so I learned to walk away or take a beating and not cry out when bullied. There is very little pleasure in beating on some one if they don’t fight back, and if they don’t cry or cower. But not fighting back works, because even a bully does not want to look like a bully. You don’t look cool if the guy you’re bullying just stands there. As for the guy that is being attacked, the best thing to keep in mind is while pain is transient and unavoidable, but integrity is worth the pain. The hardest part is to take the pain without crying out. I can’t say that I never fight back, to do so is a natural animal reaction (we are animals). To not fight however is what raises us above the level of animals. We have a fight or flight urge it is built into us genetically. To raise above our animal nature it what distinguishes us from animals. There is no natural instinct that tells us to stand up and take abuse. Where do we learn such contrary behaviour? Well there are a number of possibilities, but two are the most evident. rationalism allows us to make decisions contrary to animal instinct it is logical to assume that if we don’t respond to violence with violence there will be less violence, and religion often teaches us that we are above animal behaviour.

From a Christian perspective we follow the biblical edict (or we should) that says;

Romans 12:19-21
Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Now contrary to the direct image of God as a smiter of sinners, I take this verse to mean that those that commit evil will not be rewarded but rather they will overcome by a good society. They over time as man evolves socially will cease to be. In other words evil will be overcome by good in Gods time.

Lord, Shall We Strike with the Sword ?

I have had another Christian video game creator react negatively to my criticism of violent (so called) Christian video Games. Rather than go back into what I find offensive about individual games here is something the Christian creators of these games need to think about.
I do not recall any of Christ’s followers killing anyone. And when one of them did take up a sword what did Jesus do and say?

Luke 22 : 49 – 51

49 When those around Him saw what was going to happen, they said to Him, “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?” 50 And one of them struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear. 51 But Jesus answered and said, “Permit even this.” And He touched his ear and healed him.

I realise that the interpretation of this is often based on the circumstances surrounding Jesus capture, but the words do not say “permit this {now}” or “suffer this {for only this time}” they simply say “permit even this” or in other interpretations “Suffer ye them thus far.”
When we look at our Christian past, we don’t view the crusades with much respect. Our saints are those that have sacrificed themselves rather than sacrificed others for Jesus sake.

John 15:13
Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.

I think we are called to die for our beliefs not kill for them.
But I guess this wouldn’t really make a good action game, the first time a conflict comes up the hero steps up unarmed nonviolently and gets killed for what he believes.
It is easier to kill than to die for what you believe, wasn’t this what Jesus tried to tell us? Sorry but those that would kill for God missed Jesus’ message totally.

The Moral Majority Mourns

Jerry Laymon Falwell, Sr. , the evangelical minister who founded the Moral Majority, the Christian right political movement, in 1980 died Tuesday at age 73.

Although I have said many hateful things about Mr Falwell over the years I have ridiculed and made fun of his faux pas and been fairly and unfairly critical of his policies. I admit to being thoroughly repulsed by his theology and politics.

All that said, I admit that the Moral Majority (ick I hate that name) has lost its loudest voice. Although his beliefs are to many of us repugnant at least he lived spoke and acted in accordance with them. The criticisms levelled at him of promoting hatred were generally unfair. Even though his beliefs and the beliefs of the moral majority would create a world where hatred might flourish, he never promoted hatred, but intolerance which most of us know is the root cause of hatred. So it is with mixed emotions we say good bye to the Reverend Jerry Falwell.