Service and Sacrifice

Saturday, November 26, 2011

What does it mean to serve? What is sacrifice?

These are the type of questions which rattle around in my brain with alarming regularity.

Perhaps it is because my biological father was a Marine who enlisted in 1969 during the Vietnam War and large portions of my childhood were spent on bases in the Southern US surrounded by other men and families who were part of the military. Perhaps it is because my mother, despite her other issues, has been a dedicated RN who has continually worked as a patient advocate in her nearly 40 years of nursing, serving in Labour and Delivery, Oncology, Pediatrics and Geriatrics units.

Service is ingrained in me as part of what it means to work. To Work is to Serve.

I have been surrounded by the telegraphed idea that the importance of "Me" is nothing when compared to the importance of "We" - that My comfort, my financial prosperity, my rights as a human have never superseded the rights of others

I pass this trait to my daughter who told me of the whining and bitching of her classmates when it was announced that they would - as a class - be volunteering sorting and folding clothes at a Salvation Army. While Emily actually is looking forward to going, her peers threatened to be absent or have their parents excuse them from service.

It simply puzzles me when I run into children or adults with the attitude and ideology that they are above or beyond being responsible to the other people in their communities ( or planet). And while I am loathe to be judgemental, it just feels selfish which is anathema to me.

Of course it is fashionable now to proclaim the rights of the individual as being beyond the rights of all and in our sick bizarro world the Privileged co-opt language to show that it is They who are wronged, they who are oppressed.  I mean I can hear the phone calls now, can't you? "How DARE you make my child volunteer at a Salvation Army? I am her parent and if I WANT  her to volunteer, then I would Choose for her to volunteer!"

Yet all we can do, those of us who serve, is to keep working, keep going, hoping against some hope that the value of All can somehow be seen by people who are blinded by the value of their One.

Which is, of course, a fruitless struggle. Yet still, we hope. And work on. 

1 Baleful Regards:

Average Jane said...

It feels like such an uphill battle, as if service were something old-fashioned and uncool that no one does anymore. I belong to a community service organization that dates back to the 1920s and it is so difficult for us to maintain decent numbers of active members. Yes, everyone is busy, but that doesn't mean you can't use some small amount of your time to help others.

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