How I failed as a do-gooder

During a Zoom group I got a call from the organiser of a mental health charity where I’ve been a volunteer for five years. The quiet voice told me I was banned from going on any more of their group outings. Once a month I received a social calendar listing events which I discussed with someone I have specifically befriended, hoping he will come along. He rarely does, suffering from what’s now called, ‘Social anxiety.’ But he did agree to join a visit to Tiggywinkles, a refuge for abused hedgehogs near Thame. I took along an etching of a baby hog as a gift. 

On the bus I told him it was difficult to get a flu jab and a woman behind piped up, ‘Do you mind, your negativity is triggering me.’ We were both surprised by her aggression but I tried to pass it off with a joke. ‘I think we have free speech on the bus,’ I said. Obviously, we don’t. She reported me and I am off the bus for good. 

 ‘Negativity’ and ‘Triggering,’ are two ‘Woke’ key words, and against them there is little defence. ‘Triggering,’ a violent term of course imported from the US, is now one of the most powerful words in our language after ‘race’ and ‘gender.’ People these days can be astonishingly easily ‘triggered’ going off like a Walther P-38 at a proliferating range of words and images, usually from the wicked pre-puritan past. 

An espionage thriller on BBC Radio 4 extra, made in 1964, which was preceded by a strong ‘trigger warning.’ I listened hard for a week but couldn’t find anything offensive, except that the Scottish characters sounded crusty and eccentric. That presumably constituted racism or its lesser cousin, ‘stereotyping.’ Dad’s Army now has a health warning as does Rumpole of the Bailey on Talking Pictures TV. That series really takes one back to the drink sodden days of the 1970s and recently included a crossword puzzle clue, ‘Coloured Royals,’ answer, ‘Brown Windsor.’ That shot out of the screen as something utterly ‘offensive’ another woke key word, which would never be included in a modern program. 

I didn’t return to Zoom after being sacked, feeling extremely ‘triggered’ myself although more deflated than anything. I felt like crying but didn’t, as I was brought up not. I was told I could take the matter up with the trustees, but what would be the point; the words used to attack me were right up to the mark. They meant: ‘Your words have caused me damage.’ Very hard to refute as no evidence is required. We often hear the same ones used to mean, those words used by someone in the distant past, or the speech about to be made will create a ‘dangerous environment’ for such and such a protected group.  Whichever way they’re used, they’re aimed at controlling other people’s thought and language by use of an emotional sledge-hammer. 

The ‘triggeree’ had reported me previously. On a previous trip she’d downloaded her life to me, lived mainly as part of a cult. I’d been fascinated, but later she’d accused me of ‘Asking intrusive questions.’ The organiser in another quiet phone message, had advised that if anyone started telling me anything personal, I should disengage and change the subject. Since, I’ve always done that, although it feels odd. When a man told me he’d been in hospital following a suicide attempt, (the word suicide is now non pc) I asked him if he’d noticed the heron by the lake, rather like someone from my parent’s generation who never talked about anything intimate with anyone. 

Volunteering as a ‘do-gooder,’ now involves negotiating the new rules of Woke, which has tentacles around the equality laws, Health & Safety, and an obsession with privacy so strong that even doctors cannot pass information to each other………  Subscribe to this month’s Salisbury Review Magazine to read the rest of Jane’s article


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13 Comments on How I failed as a do-gooder

  1. Jane, please don’t cry about being sacked from Zoom. You’re not a bad as the woman banished there after she forgot the dildo on the bookshelf behind her.

  2. Do-gooders emerge on the scene because, with natural generous impulse, they do want genuinely to help all those who cannot or will not seek self-sufficiency. The main problems are these: Compared with earlier centuries, the Anglosphere is now producing greater proportions of persons who cannot or will not pursue self-sufficiency; and, is producing ever-fewer capable people able to deal with the parasitic surge in realistic ways.

  3. There was once this do-gooder. He had had the extraordinary good fortune of being the beneficiary of others’ productivity, though he did not comprehend this point. To make himself feel good about himself, he passed all of his material wealth to others whom he regarded as deserving. But it did not make him feel good enough. He ended his own life in the belief that his absence as a mouth to be fed, a body to be medicated, would provide yet more goods for deserving others. But his suicide caused millions of pounds of opportunity costs as others scrambled to do all the anti-prodcitive things that naive do-gooders do when an acclaimed do-gooder leaves the scene. And as increasing numbers of other do-gooders also wasted their material wealth and their lives, all the other people perished.

  4. It seems evident that the modern world is greatly distanced from the ideal and law of charity (I Corinthians 13). And the moment one tries to address or correct these deviations, one finds oneself also likely to immediately transgress. What is the way out ? Perhaps as Anthony of the Desert was told, “humility” is the only escape from the snares. It’s a hard lesson, we are as Dr. Brown said, the wounded surgeon wielding the knife. Like St. Francis, we have to ask forgiveness before we embark on any work. Perhaps we can imitate Aelred of Rievaulx in his Spiritual Friendship.

  5. Is there any organisation left that doesn’t exclude everybody who shows any symptoms of lacking the required lefty attitudes?

    However, your reference to “abused hedgehogs” has cheered me up by reminding me of a fine old song.

    “Recent research at Oxford
    By Haldane and Huxley and Hall
    Has proved that the common hedgehog…”

    If you don’t know the rest, you can look it up. And if you accuse me of being a hedgehogophobe, let me draw your attention to the generous gaps under my garden fences.

  6. You should report the ‘organiser’ for being unsupportive when you were verbally assaulted on the outing to the hedgehog sanctuary. State that the ‘organiser’ has behaved in an intimidating and abusive fashion, that the ‘organiser’ has completely ignored all correct procedure in investigating the incident of the verbal assault upon yourself and has instead left you feeling isolated and vulnerable.

    I am not joking. You really should do this. If you don’t then you are going to encourage this passive aggressive bullying behaviour. I fully expect that your complaint will be dismissed but it will at least give the ‘organiser’ pause for thought the next time he is tempted to bully someone.

  7. Related, in the realm of doing good: It seems time for a discussion, within all institutions, large and small, on the matter of non-heterosexuals earning huge amounts of money by playing heterosexuals in the movies and on TV.

  8. Dear Jane – don’t be disheartened, you did nothing wrong. As I’m sure you’ll know anyway, anyone who tries to help others in unfortunate circumstances puts themselves at risk of being resented even if what they say or do is exemplary. Anyone who is emotionally fragile can too easily turn into an emotional terrorist.

  9. Jane Kelly is a fine chronicler of the End of Days.
    That Britain, the Anglosphere, is now ruled by the needs/dictates of its most weak-minded and most emotionally worthless people is a terrible thing, and I cannot imagine that a remedy exists.