Some time ago I participated in a program that helped people who hadn’t worked in a few years get a job. Part of the program was working at a volunteer job for a few weeks. Now I never thought about testing it at the time, but the volunteer part of the program may have been required. Philosophically I find this quite troubling.
I now know a young man who has completed more than his necessary high school credits. Still he doesn’t have his Ontario secondary school diploma. And no, there have been no conduct problems on his record. This is all because the province of Ontario has mandated that each graduate must have 40 hours of compulsory community service.
In the case of the young man I know, he has had a very time intensive part time job while attending secondary school. So finding time for involuntary volunteer work hasn’t been easy. Plus there is the troubling philosophy of it, too. Is it that Ontario social workers no longer need to know the definition of basic words, like volunteer? Or do they somehow think that involuntary volunteer work is somehow a plus for our society?
Let’s be honest about what involuntary volunteer work is. It is slavery pure and simple.
Some might object to my perspective and say that the students get to pick which job they do. Well let’s be truthful, slavery has taken many forms over the historical record, sometimes it was less tyrannical than at other times.
But it’s only 40 hours, not a life. You can be a slave for less than a lifetime historically, too.
I’m not saying that volunteer work can’t be good. Indeed if that young man I know hadn’t been able to find a job during high school, doing volunteer work could give him skills and thus a leg up on his competitors for jobs.
And volunteering can be rewarding. A number of years ago, when I wanted to give back to my community, I went to a place in my town called the Volunteer Action Centre and rifled through binders filled with volunteer positions separated according to type. Because of this, I did give back, and because of the choice it was in an area that was more pleasant to me than just picking anything.
Looking at the online propaganda of the Ontario secondary school system they sometimes call the volunteer work “community service” instead of volunteer work. And in my 40+ years in this province, the only other time I’ve heard the phrase “community service” was when we were punishing criminals.
So why are we punishing our youth with slave work?