by Terry Plotkin

I ran into someone I know at the grocery store who is unemployed and has been for a while. I asked her if she had found a job and her answer was she was ready to serve. She is not independently wealthy so she needs a job to stay afloat. She talked as if she was looking to give, but she really needed to get. The notion that you are giving, when money is on your mind, is, at best, a trade-off. Service is a state of mind more than it is a job. There are lots of ways to serve, whether money is involved or not. It is best to own the truth about what we are up to, even if we have to adjust our self-image.

There are church members from many denominations who proselytize to those who have yet to accept their version of religious truth.  They are sure they have it and you don’t. They are equally sure you need their help to achieve salvation even though you have not asked for it. For the most part, they do this with good intentions, believing they are trying to help the poor souls who are fooling around with the devil, embarked on a straight path down the slippery hill to Hell. Not only are they trying to save you from an eternity of torment, which is surely a worthy cause in itself, but, also, they are helping the church gain members, while doing the work of God. In their zealotry, they don’t recognize their arrogance when they tell you to believe as they do, because they assume that their religion is the true one, thus your belief cannot.  I don’t get why they are so sure of themselves given that they take it on faith that their Holy Book is infallible, even though it has been translated through several languages, some of which are now extinct, been edited by councils long after the founder, who probably was not even aware that he was starting a religion, has died, and not written down at the time the events supposedly happened.

Politicians tell you that they are servants of the people, doing your bidding and fighting for your rights and needs.  Corporations try to convince you that they are working for you and are a force for good in the world. Strangely, the word profit never gets mentioned. With all this supposedly good, unselfish work going on it is a wonder that the world has any problems at all, never mind the mind-numbing issues that confront us daily, so many in fact, that we can’t keep track of them. If only they meant what their image- makers assert, we might make some progress.

It is time to stop thinking of ourselves, or the organizations we belong to, as God’s Gift to Humanity. It is more like the gift of life came to us for our own benefit. The world was stumbling along before we were born, and it will most likely continue to stumble on after we leave. It will scarcely note our passing. Best not to kid ourselves.

Most – perhaps all – of us were born to uplift ourselves, scrape the rust off our souls, work out our own issues, learn lessons (sometimes over and over again until it sinks in), become self-aware, self- actualized, self-directed, self-empowered. We are more lost in the woods than we are leading others out of the thick forest. Doing good work in the world is an aid in this task, and if, in so doing, we uplift others, then good. Perhaps all those movies where One Man saves the world from the Evils that plague it have planted a messiah complex in our brains. Recognizing that we are not the world’s savior would remove one of the stumbling blocks in our path as we try to find our way up the mountain.

I wish you good luck.

One Response to “Service”

  1. I really enjoyed your entry today. For whatever reason our neighborhood has an unusual amount of door-to-door saviors, who invariably ring my bell when I am in the shower, washing the floor, talking on the phone, etc. My new approach is to open the door saying “I am comfortable with my own faith but I TOTALLY support your 1st amendment right to do this, please respect my 1st amendment right to say No Thank You” and then I close my door. I am thinking of expanding this approach to telephone solicitors, stoplight panhandlers, and those people who want to spray me with perfume at Macy’s. Sometimes living is about drawing boundaries……..

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