This article is Ancient (archive 2011)

Daria the Dissenter, or Why I’ll volunteer

As a grown-up, I dismiss my anger towards hypocrisy and phoniness as a vestigial evolutionary response: I needed it to become me, but it’s just an impediment now. Every so often, I let it take hold, and I feel very witty and biting until the shame sets in. Yes, he said something stupid, but was shouting about due process across a room of surprised onlookers really the way to go?

But that was high school, and I like to think I’ve grown up since then. Still, when I get ill, I tend to regress. Into Daria.

Perhaps my recent inability to hold a civil conversation inspired my sister to send me “Daria: The Complete Animated Series” for my birthday. Ill and irritable, I’ve regressed to my basic patterns of thought: I feel adrift in a sea of phoniness, hypocrisy, and incompetence. While identifying with non-joiners Daria and Jane Lane is always dangerous, I indulged.

Despite Daria’s strong sense of right and wrong, she rarely participates, or tries to improve the world she describes as hell. She applies her knowledge of global catastrophes toward mocking her peers for their ignorance. Her growth throughout the series addresses this mocking and her self-handicapping, but skips over the larger problem: the world can be a lot like hell. Any attempts to make it seem otherwise are trite, shallow, status-motivated efforts to look good.

Let’s give ourselves some credit and assume that this is the source of our discontent, dissent, and rebellion. Why participate in a system designed to exploit the helpless to help those who don’t need it? Or, from another side, why participate in a system designed to give handouts to the undeserving by stealing from the hardworking? In either case, we the dissenters conscientiously object to participation in a system we see as essentially corrupt.

On the other hand, maybe we’re just as corrupt as everyone and, as Trent’s laziness demonstrates, we use our ideals to justify a policy of non-intervention. Either way, we should consider making this a nicer place to live, at least until the revolution comes. So, fellow non-joiners, dissenters, malcontents, and rebels, let’s accept the gift of our anger, and use it to power our… I don’t know, something.

Here’s what I propose: after all the phonies have finished their Christmas volunteering, we’ll pick up the slack. Since volunteer opportunities vary from holding fundraisers while wearing the organization’s t-shirt to quietly stacking books in a local library, we should all be able to find something that suits our particular talents, interests, and moral codes.

Starting in the new year gives me time to find something that I actually want to do, then get off my lazy ass and do it. Getting off my lazy ass and doing it will lend credibility to my complaints that everybody else sucks. I’m making this public to motivate myself; now, if I fail, then I’m just another hypocrite or phony trying to salvage my sense of goodness without helping others like good people do.

Use your self-obsession to motivate you. Let your network know that you intend to take action (by hitting the share button and reposting this), then decide what you want to do. I recommend heading over to volunteermatch.org, but you might consider starting your own initiative to promote… well, whatever the hell you want.

I can hear your inner Daria moaning that this, like all other attempts to get you engaged in building a ‘better’ world, is clearly just a gimmick to promote the writer (or her blog). I could assure you that I meant to do this before realizing its promotional value (and for the record, this is true) but would you really believe me? I wouldn’t expect anything less.

Use the share buttons, they’re right down there. Or use the sidebar to subscribe!