Around 2007, fellow blogger Ellee Seymour asked me, “Do you volunteer, James?” and behind that was the notion of pressure to, as she did and all people who “give back” should according to her.
Call it an English tradition or a conservative one or even middle-England but there has long been a feeling of obligation among the English of “a type” to “give back”. Thus Bandaid concerts, save the world and all that but also the great poppy rip-off when one firm made a mint from wooden poppies some years back … and so it goes on.
According to the letter of the law, no one MUST pay and yet volunteering and charity are two major character traits in the English, to the point that charities are huge business and as we’ve sadly found out, often involve fatcats on huge salaries and a whole admin infrastructure with people taking a cut of the charitable donation.
Most people do not pay to give some fatcat a salary, they pay so that it supposedly helps the recipient. So not only is there this element of coercion – we feel obligated to pay – but there is also this element of false pretences and people do not like it.
Naturally, most people see “coercion” as applying force, pressure, in order to get someone to do something. I would argue that by painting itself as “charitable”, “worthy” institution as “defenders and upholders”, that the NT is playing on English sensibilities and coercing moneys from the population, in the same way as:
I would further argue that if someone is selling the Big Issue, one can generally sidestep and move on without the conscience being pricked but some institutions are royal and do coerce by their very grand cause … in the minds of a certain type of English.
And then, having got the money [or the annual membership] out of a person, that person is then being diddled – see the NT screenshots above.
It’s this very act of diddling which changes “appealing to our better nature” into “coercion”.
Feel free to disagree.