Service and stewardship

Titles, I believe, are given to people in order for them to be identified immediately.  Take the case of doctors.  On my way from the United States to the Philippines, the pilot announced if there was a doctor in the plane.  The reason: one of the passengers was having a stroke and he needed immediate attention.

Lawyers are given the title attorney because they are supposed to prove that their clients are not guilty beyond reasonable doubt.  Hollywood movies like “And Justice for All” and “A Few Good Men” gave us some ideas that there are good and bad lawyers, indeed.

Politicians are chosen by their constituents in order to serve the people who have chosen them.  The title “honorable” doesn’t mean that they are to be served by their constituents but rather to serve those who selected them in the first place.  But unfortunately, instead of doing their jobs, some of them even exploit those who elected them and even rob the money that should have been given to those who have less in life.

We are born into this world because of one reason – and that is to serve the humanity, our fellow beings.  “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others,” said Mahatma Gandhi, the preeminent leader of Indian nationalism in British-ruled India. “The successful man doesn’t use others, other people use the successful man, for above all the success is of service,” noted American writer Mark Caine. Even writers—be that best man speeches writer, novel writer, or script wirters.

American poet Emily Dickinson has penned some lines about service: “If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain,” she wrote. “If I can ease one life the aching, or cool one pain, or help one fainting robin unto his nest again, I shall not live in vain.”

In 1908, Eugene V. Debs delivered one of the most eloquent speeches. “Now my friends,” he said, “I am opposed to the system of society in which we live today, not because I lack the natural equipment to do for myself but because I am not satisfied to make myself comfortable knowing that there are thousands of my fellow men who suffer for the barest necessities of life.

“We were taught under the old ethic that man’s business on this earth was to look out for himself. That was the ethic of the jungle; the ethic of the wild beast. Take care of yourself, no matter what may become of your fellow man.

“Thousands of years ago the question was asked; ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’ That question has never yet been answered in a way that is satisfactory to civilized society.”

The American union leader, one of the founding members of the Industrial Workers of the World, continued his speech: “Yes, I am my brother’s keeper. I am under a moral obligation to him that is inspired, not by any maudlin sentimentality but by the higher duty I owe myself. What would you think me if I were capable of seating myself at a table and gorging myself with food and saw about me the children of my fellow beings starving to death.”

“Giving kids clothes and food is one thing but it’s much more important to teach them that other people besides themselves are important, and that the best thing they can do with their lives is to use them in the service of other people,” said Dolores Huerta, a labor leader and civil rights activist.

Hannah More, an English religious writer and philanthropist, says that even a smallest act you do is a great service to the person who receives it. “One kernel is felt in a hogshead; one drop of water helps to swell the ocean; a spark of fire help to give light to the world. None are too small, too feeble, too poor to be of service. Think of this and act,” she points out.

But remember the words of Nathan C. Scheaffer.  He wrote: “At the close of life, the question will be not how much have you got but how much have you given? Not how much have you won but how much have you done? Not how much have you saved but how much have you sacrificed? It will be how much have you loved and served, not how much were you honored?”

That is the kind of service our Majesty – that Someone Up There – requires us to do!

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