In my recent SpiritGroup focused on designing one’s life intentionally and not by default, service was discussed as a component of having a life by design, of purpose and passion. The following two quotes, while not new to me, re-surfaced during last week’s meeting, perfectly timed for me:
Dr. Marian Wright Edelman, Founder and President of The Children’s Defense Fund, said “Service is the rent we pay for being on this earth.” I think that’s pretty nifty. Have you ever looked at volunteerism that way? Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., when referring to service said “You only need a heart full of grace and a soul generated by love.”
Personally, when I’ve immersed myself in service, I have received so much more than I have given. My soul feels full, I feel more connected to Spirit, and closer to people. And, yes, I feel that I made a contribution for being on this planet, for breathing this life.
Most of my service over the years has focused on people and organizations of a spiritual nature--12 Step fellowship and spiritual centers. And, while I’ve never been part of an organized religion, since food pantries, soup kitchens, and the like have often been sponsored by such, I have assisted in providing food to adults and children directly or indirectly.
Now I am embarking on a service new for me and yet it certainly feels crucial to my soul’s well being and that of at least some of the USA population and the world at-large: contributing to the get-out-the-vote and election effort for the November elections, to the very framework of this country. [Note: This article is NOT about politics!]
But before I could commit myself and my resources, it seems I had to read the following words during a reading before bedtime last week.
“The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing” (attributed to Edmund Burke, but also John Stuart Mill and others as I’ve since discovered). Throughout my life, I’ve often thought about the rise of Nazism in Germany. I’ve wondered whether if more people had spoken up or not accepted Hitler’s rhetoric and rabble-rousing that 6 million plus lives would have been saved and all the other horrors of that time period wouldn’t have occurred. If I had lived during that time, would (did?) I have spoken up, done something, been brave?
The other quote (also attributed to Burke, but further investigation yields the name of Rev. Sydney Smith and others) was “Nobody makes a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little.”
I may not have buckets of money to contribute to candidates’ campaigns, but these days my income provides for my needs comfortably and I can donate a portion of it. Outside of my work hours and other commitments, I can donate time to contact people encouraging them to vote in this election where democracy is on the line, where the stakes have never been higher, certainly not in my lifetime and perhaps in the history of the United States of America. Signing petitions is another action I can take to be in service to my country and its people. And, praying and affirming the light and the highest good in people and outcomes is a powerful action and service.
Yes, I can indeed do something. As the proverb goes, “A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.” I have to start where I can, as best as I can. I can put one foot in front of the other, and do what I can. One step at a time, one day at a time.
Once the November election results are finalized, will I be able to face myself, believe that I did what I could, with what I had (time, money, thoughts, etc.), still be in integrity? Yes, for I commit now that I will not not do anything because I think it is too small.
What about you?
I've chosen the following song not just because it is written and sung by one of my favorite musical artists (Daniel Nahmod), and not just because it is about singing (which is as important to me as breathing), but because it is also about giving--from our core.