The day after Columbine, I was interviewed for the Tom Brokaw news program. The reporter had been assigned a theory and was seeking sound bites to support it. “Wouldn’t you say,” she asked, “that killings like this are influenced by violent movies?” No, I said, I wouldn’t say that. “But what about Basketball Diaries?” she asked. “Doesn’t that have a scene of a boy walking into a school with a machine gun?” The obscure 1995 Leonardo Di Caprio movie did indeed have a brief fantasy scene of that nature, I said, but the movie failed at the box office (it grossed only $2.5 million), and it’s unlikely the Columbine killers saw it. The reporter looked disappointed, so I offered her my theory. “Events like this,” I said, “if they are influenced by anything, are influenced by news programs like your own. When an unbalanced kid walks into a school and starts shooting, it becomes a major media event. Cable news drops ordinary programming and goes around the clock with it. The story is assigned a logo and a theme song; these two kids were packaged as the Trench Coat Mafia. The message is clear to other disturbed kids around the country: If I shoot up my school, I can be famous. The TV will talk about nothing else but me. Experts will try to figure out what I was thinking. The kids and teachers at school will see they shouldn’t have messed with me. I’ll go out in a blaze of glory.”
In short, I said, events like Columbine are influenced far less by violent movies than by CNN, the NBC Nightly News and all the other news media, who glorify the killers in the guise of “explaining” them. I commended the policy at the Sun-Times, where our editor said the paper would no longer feature school killings on Page 1. The reporter thanked me and turned off the camera. Of course the interview was never used. They found plenty of talking heads to condemn violent movies, and everybody was happy.” —Roger Ebert (via animalmysoul)
I suggest to volunteers, when you volunteer make sure you state in the beginning what you want to do. Example say I just want to walk to dogs, but not willing to clean up after them. That’s an ok statement to an organization because even in volunteering you are still seeking a reward even if it’s just psychological fulfillment. It would be sad to see a volunteer get burnt out and taken advantage by paid non-profit employees to do a paid employee’s work, or work that that’s unfavorable while paid non-profit employees relax and boss around volunteers.
Here some things that urked me that I read online (need to cite them maybe later :/):
“Don’t tolerate a caste system in your office.
I have seen offices where the paid managers went out to lunch daily, usually together, while the clerical staff and volunteers ate egg salad sandwiches in the break room, meanwhile holding down the fort until the managers returned. What a way to make clerical staff and volunteers feel like second-class citizens. Find ways to be inclusive and make everyone feel that they are vital to something very important.”
“Charities take advantage of volunteers
That was an interesting letter (“Confessions of a lazy dumpster diver”) from the reader about Habitat for Humanity. They’re actually OK in some other countries (they’re run locally) but it’s no surprise the US branches are screwed up.
I did a lot of volunteering around my burg for a while. I did a stint for Catholic Charities, until I threw my back out. I picked up all their donations, and I noticed after a while that I was the only person in the office not getting paid, the only person doing actual physical work on a regular basis, and I’m not even a Catholic or a church-goer. There are maybe 100,000 Catholics around here, but I did all their volunteer heavy lifting.
Come to find out volunteers don’t get Workmen’s Compensation. Catholic Charities is also deeply offensive, in that you have to sit through a training video at the beginning that states that volunteers are the most likely people to molest children. Hello! I thought they hired the priests to do all the child molesting, but maybe that was just my imagination.
At another outfit I volunteered to give free rides to medical appointments for people with HIV. Once they gave me $10 for gas, out of maybe 50 rides I gave. They got taxis to take the patients if they had no drivers like me. If they weren’t such cheap bastards I would have kept doing it. They could afford $40 a pop for a taxi, but couldn’t throw me $10 once a month for gas.
I checked on volunteering for a hospice one time. By law hospice companies have to get volunteers to donate 5% of all hours or they don’t get paid by Uncle Sam, so they all have volunteer directors to recruit volunteers non-stop. Another get-something-for-nothing grab.
The average non-profit seems to be set up in many ways to take advantage of volunteers, who do most of the real work, while the paid staff gets all the gravy. Non-profits, for all their propaganda (and there are many exceptions) are basically like the rest of the US workplace — dreary hotbeds of infighting, backstabbing, boot kissing, idiocy, buck passing, and above all trying to get somebody else to do the job for free.
Many of these outfits try to get volunteers by playing to people’s altruistic instincts, but any volunteer with any sense can see after a few months that they are just being taken advantage of.
I could go on with other examples of places I had experience with in my own local city (don’t get me started on Feed the Children) but the story is almost always the same. This is the US after all, and like you said, everything is a racket.