I’m only human. Which means that I like to be recognised for my work, like everyone else. I particularly like to be recognised for the work I do voluntarily, since it’s a gift and I’m not expecting anything in return.
Two and a half years ago when Ceri and I and a couple of others got together to create the Montreal Pagan Resource Center, for example, we were aiming to create something for everyone in the city to use as a resource, Pagan or not. It was to be a place where people could go to do research, to ask questions, and to talk to others in a safe environment in an effort to share information about all sorts of religions. Eventually Ceri, and then I as well, gave up in frustration on the project. It wasn’t worth the crap and resentment that the local Pagan community was throwing at us; not when we were volunteering so much time, energy and effort.
Why are voluntary leaders always unappreciated? Why is it that as soon as someone is paid for their work, it becomes “legitimate” in some way?
Patricia Telesco has written an interesting article that examines the concept of give and take in a spiritual community. One paragraph in particular caught my attention, and it begins with:
Scanning our rather dysfunctional family there has been great growth, but it has also come at a great price. We do not really honor our priests, our elders, our teachers — for the most part I see these people burning out because everyone takes, and few give back.
I know exactly what she means. And unfortunately, it brought up all my old frustration with the local Pagan community again.
Oh, the MPRC is still around. Half of its founding members have washed their hands of the project, though, burnt out, frustrated.
As a teacher, like it or not, I’m a leader. I know that at some point I’ll have to get involved in the community again. I’m not looking forward to it at all; my experiences with it over the past seven years have been 90% negative. Not much of an incentive to return, is it. Every once in a while I think I can make a difference, help create an environment where we can all support and learn from each other, and then I look at the notoriously apathetic local community’s history, and their brick walls that I’ve run into in the past. How many times must I do it before either I or the community learns the lesson?
It’s like a playground: everyone has to co-operate. It just gets so damned frustrating when some of us try and try, and eventually give up… only to hear the community complain about the lack of leadership. The hypocrisy chokes me.
And people wonder why I keep to myself.