Sunday, August 14, 2011

Please don't ever tell me I'm awesome for doing this work

Seriously. I don't want to hear it.

One, service is a basic requirement in my belief system. Not just my religious beliefs, although, over 2,000 verses about the need to seek justice for the poor are pretty convincing. In my beliefs about humanity, service is a prerequisite for loving other people. This includes the small acts. How can you say you love your family if you're not willing to do things for them? Your friends if you won't even be there for them (there emotionally if not physically)? Your companion if you won't sacrifice for them? I choose to do more service because, well, inside, there's a spoiled little princess who does need perspective, who needs reminders that there are others who were not blessed with what I have and deserve to be seen as people, too. Serving others helps me realize my faults and my failures in loving those close to me and reminds me that I need to practice what I preach with the people in my life.

Two, I look at the youth of the Middle East, the youth all over who hunger and thirst for justice to the point of death. I think of figures such as Dr. King, Joan of Arc, Gandhi, Wangari Maathai, the guys who fought in the Easter Rising. Most of them were killed and Wangari Maathai, while still alive, faced government persecution. The youth in the Middle East risk their lives in protest and many have already died. Guess what? They all are taking much more of a risk than I am. I complain that I no longer have any disposable income and they're all giving up their personal safety. My sacrifices are pretty small compared to what others face in the fight for justice. So, I don't go out all the time and I work ten hour days. So, maybe my kids won't like me at first (or maybe they will). Compared to all those badasses, I'm not giving up that much.

Three, like I mentioned before, I have flaws. Trust me, I am no angel. I have the tendency to cut people off, get offended easily, developed quite a potty mouth in college, and I complain quite a bit. There is nothing I hate more than, "You're so much better than me, I could never do that." Um, yes you can. Or, if you're limited in time and resources, you can find something to raise your voice about. You don't want direct service, there's advocacy, fundraising, and a whole other slew of means to make change. Truly, there is something for everyone. If you're a parent, instill values of service in your kids. And, if you feel you need to curb some habits or change aspects of your life to do so, then do it. There's time as long you're breathing. Maybe you can't take a full year to do full time service. There are still many ways you can help your community while becoming a better person in the meantime.

I hate the, "you're awesome" or "you're the best" comments because I always feel there is room for improvement. I promise you, a diet and some exercise would be very good for my ego. Also, don't focus on me. I wouldn't do this if I didn't have a strong belief that this was required. In turn, I came from good parents, who never failed to remind me of my duty to humanity. Seriously, don't give me all the credit. Instead, I hope that what I am doing inspires you to figure out how you can improve yourself and your community.

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